Order in the Mock Court


At a Mock Trial practice, senior Baron Cao and junior Khari Franklin, team captain, assign roles for an upcoming tournament. In the tournament, students simulate a real life courtroom experience playing the role of the lawyers and witnesses. “We have a very young team, which could pose challenges to our season in terms of experience, but based on our first tournament we should do very well,” Franklin said. (Photo courtesy of Ella Simpson)

Quincy Steidle, Staff Writer

Mock Trial is a team at State High that competes in competitions run by the PA Bar Association. The team is meant to simulate a real life courtroom experience, and the state competitions are held in real courtrooms with real judges and jury members who are lawyers, paralegals, and law students. Last year, State High’s team placed 13th out of over 300 schools at States.

This September, the team competed at the Bulldog Invitational at Yale University, and the team confidently awaits the Blue and White Courtroom Classic at Penn State this January.

“Our goal is to place on the podium, if not win the Blue and White Courtroom Classic at PSU, return to States later in the season, and continue to develop the young talent we have on the team,” junior Evan Jones, a returning member of the team, said. The rest of the team is composed of Ella Simpson, junior, Khari Franklin, junior team captain, and seniors Stanley Hamilton and Baron Cao. New members include Isabelle Snyder, sophomore, and freshmen Clarissa Theiss and Allison Mi.

“I get to practice public speaking, confidence, and my knowledge of the law, which I am interested in as a career,” Khari Franklin said.  Students compete in trials as either witnesses or attorneys and must memorize courtroom procedure and while writing and memorizing all of their lines and case information.

A mock trial team is composed of four witnesses and four attorneys, and in each round, three of each compete against another team.  The team prepares both the prosecution and defense side of the case in practice because they do not know which they must present in the competition. A round is composed of a five-minute opening statement, thirty minutes for three direct examinations and three cross-examinations, and a five-minute closing statement.

“I think this case is very interesting because it reflects a topic that is really on-point with today’s news cycle,” Ms. Rand, a mock trial team advisor, said. Each year, the case alternates between civil and criminal. This year’s is a criminal case about a woman who was killed after receiving a high dosage of painkillers, allowing the team to learn about medical malpractice and opioid usage.