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Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Mock Trial Program

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Every year, a company called Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) hands out a case packet to hundreds upon hundreds of schools around the country. The case packet has a fictional fact situation (such as the murder of a famous celebrity or an attempted school bombing), a list of witness statements (the defendant, the doctors, the friends, and the detective), and a list of objections. After a month of practicing, teams go to a nearby courthouse and enter in a stressful competition against other schools.

I'm on the mock trial team. To tell you the honest truth, I don't want to be a lawyer. Actually, I'm not sure how I got on the team. I think I was avoiding someone and the sign up meeting was at lunch and so I just went there. I am so glad, because mock trial is a blast. I think even if you don't want to be a lawyer, you could manage to have fun.

Each team has two sub teams – a prosecution and a defense. Each sub team has three lawyers (four, if you count pretrial) and four witnesses. I am the detective. The detective is a prosecution witness. My job is to memorize a statement given to me by CRF. My lawyers will give me a list of questions that I am expected to know for trial (direct questions). The opposing team in trial will ask me questions to try to mess me up (cross questions). I, luckily, have not fallen for that. I did, however, forget my name in trial, but that's another story.

This is my second year on the mock trial team. It's also the second year our school has had a team. Last year, we had a case about a movie star, Jes Markson, killing his girlfriend, Taylor. At least, that's what the prosecution said. The defense said she killed herself. She was found in her garage, sitting in her car. She died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Did Jes kill her? Well, that's up to the Prosecution.

The case packet is written, so either side could win. It is literally a coin toss. This usually causes the prosecution to lose, because they hold the burden of proof and the defense just needs to prove reasonable doubt. Never fear. In mock trial, it doesn't matter if you win or lose – it depends on points. Two or three scorers will sit in the back of the room and rate your performance. They have some weird complex scoring system, which nobody understands except our team captain. She tries to explain it to us, but we don't get it. We all stare at her blankly until she tells us if we advanced.

Last year, we didn't make it past round one, which was understandable because we were a new team. It was our first year. None of us had any idea what we were doing. This year, we had no excuse.

This year case is about loner Casey Campbell. Casey had no friends and was picked on by the popular group called the Crew. In his room were pictures Casey drew of Sawyer, leader of the Crew, burning in his High School. Casey was seen early in the morning peering into the trashcan at the school near where Sawyer and her friends hung out. Later that day, Detective Rory Riley found a bomb in that very trashcan. The prosecution doctor testified that the bomb would have killed anyone within 60 feet, while the defense doctor said that, at most, it would have set off a stink bomb. Confused yet? That's not even half. Let's just say each team member had to read sixty pages of evidence at least.

This year, in our conference, there were seventy teams. Our team advanced. Twenty-two were left. Our prosecution was called to go back to the courthouse and have another trial against another school. I was so nervous. On top of that, I was the first witness called. The team was switching jobs and someone new was directing me. He forgot to give me the questions and I had no idea what he was asking me. He was all mellow, saying, "You'll do fine." I was about ready to kill him! I was not going to be the reason our team didn't advance. I went up there and said my part. I was unsure if I did well, but there was nothing else I could do. Just wait.

We advanced. We are one of the eight teams left. If we get in the top two we go to state finals in Oakwood, California. If we win that, we go to Dallas, Texas for Nationals. Our defense goes this Tuesday at the Los Angeles courthouse. Since, I'm prosecution, there is nothing I can do but wait.

Well, that worked last time, right?

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  • CallmeMaddy

    UPDATE:

    Our team ended up playing the team that went to nationals last year. We missed the finals by two percent! Maybe next year.

    La Canada High School–Quarter Finalist