By Lily Curlin
With the district mock trial tournament currently underway, St. Mary’s “Mock Stars” recount their preparation so far for this season. Although the tournament is a week earlier than usual, starting Feb. 5, and despite a setback in practices due to a six day “snow break,” St. Mary’s two teams are on track to uphold their legacy of success.
This year’s case is termed Carden Carol vs. The City of Hockeytown. Young law student Carden Carol is suing the city of Hockeytown, Tennessee for injuries she sustained at an eclipse day protest. Mixed in with this case are questionable experts, a statue of Michael Jordan and some cringe-worthy alliteration.
For those who haven’t attended a mock trial tournament, the idea is pretty simple. Each season, there is a new case. In the months leading up to the tournament, teams practice with the case, rehearsing direct and cross examinations, memorizing introductions and closings, and learning witness statements until the lawyers and witnesses know their parts like the back of their hand. Then at the tournament, members from each team act as lawyers and witnesses in a real courtroom at the Judge D’Army Courthouse in downtown Memphis. They present and argue the case as if it were a real court case. A judge and jury, composed of licensed and practicing lawyers, rank the teams on a variety of factors and decide the winners who then advance on to finals the following week.
New “Mock Stars” are excited to be competing in their first mock trial tournament. Kalen Ingram (9) explains why she joined the team, saying “I thought it would be an interesting experience to see how realistic we could get to being real lawyers and witnesses.” She added that “It's very hard; we have to memorize pages and pages of witness statements and rules, and it can be scary to to perform in front of the team … which means it will be even scarier at the tournament.”
However, Anjali Shah (9) speaks to all that the team has learned so far, saying “It helps us to speak confidently and learn how to be under pressure and still perform well. Acting as a witness, I had to learn to be confident in what I was saying and just be who my character is.”
A returning team member, Gabby Perez (11) speaks from experience. “Competition can be pretty intimidating. I get pretty bad stage fright, but once I start I have prepared so much that I feel pretty good. We always know what we’re doing. It’s a great experience, and we learn to face the fear.” Gabby also mentions all the friendships she’s made on the team, saying “we get so close, especially during competition week; we always have inside jokes. Mock trial has given me so many awesome friends; they’re my people.”
Team captain and four year team member Makenzie Barns (12) agrees. “I love being on the team and I love being a part of something that requires so much interaction and interdependence between the girls. That bonding element is what makes all the stress and anxiety tolerable.”
The whole mock trial team is excited for the coming tournaments. Hopes are high that the two teams will go to state for the fourth year in a row and maybe even advance to nationals, which hasn’t been done since 2008. Kalen Ingram voiced her first goal for the team this year, saying, “I do NOT want to get beaten by MUS.”
And so far, St. Mary’s has accomplished Kalen’s goal as the two teams beat both MUS and CBHS in the first round of competition on Feb. 6 and 7. These victories have allowed both St. Mary’s teams to advance to the elite eight on Thursday, Feb 8.