Mock Trial team wins state for first time, headed to nationals

Zachary Bahar, Executive Editor

This season brought ETHS’s Mock Trial team to new heights, as the team will attend nationals for the first time after winning the Illinois State Bar Association State Competition.

“Overall, this season went great. Like every season, we just got better as we went, and then we really hit our peak there at the end, which was super awesome,” senior and team co-captain Josie Hansen said.

This achievement means that the team has been given a little more than a month to learn and rehearse a new case, a process which they typically spend months working towards, on the road to the National High School Mock Trial Championship.

“We’re preparing for nationals, so we’re going through a case and everyone will read the case completely through. You’ll pick which witnesses you like the best and get assigned to a role relating to those witnesses—if you’re an attorney or like a witness. Once you have your roles, we read through the case in order from prosecution to defense and start creating all of our goals. Once you have the outline of the direct or the cross, which is when you do questioning of the witnesses, then it’s really just practice,” senior Coco Walker said.

The National High School Mock Trial Championship will be taking place from May 12-15 and will, like the rest of the season, be held virtually. However, given the nature of the club, Mock Trial was able to make the transition to a remote world rather smoothly.

“Something that’s really cool about Mock Trial is that we can get essentially all the same things done; it just took a little more discipline to get it all done online. In a normal school year, starting around Halloween, we would meet every Tuesday and Thursday after school for an hour and a half until the end of our season, which is normally mid-March; we still did that this year, just over Zoom. We just had to adapt our format and how we would normally do practices to Zoom and really utilize breakout rooms,” Hansen said.

“It went better than I thought it was going to go over Zoom; I was really bummed because there’s nothing like walking into a courtroom with the team, being all dressed in suits and having this briefcase—it’s very official.”

This performative portion of the activity was impacted by the virtual shift, as courtrooms became replaced with Zoom calls—also reflected in courtrooms around the country. Walker views the performance inherent to Mock Trial as one of its strongest aspects.

“It’s a really fun way to interact with people that, for me, I don’t normally see; it’s a lot of kids from theater backgrounds or debate backgrounds that are outside of my normal friend groups. I really enjoyed being in that space of people, and I think everyone’s always very nice and welcoming,” Walker said.

“It’s been a nice place to try to learn how to use your voice and how to do public speaking and advocate for your ideas….Definitely give it a try”