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Mock Trial qualifies for state

Senior Courtney Owens takes part Mock Trial.

Senior Courtney Owens takes part Mock Trial.

Emma Gage

Emma Gage

Senior Courtney Owens takes part Mock Trial.

Emma Gage, Reporter

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Bellevue West’s Mock Trial team qualified for state after winning their regional competition Monday, Nov. 20.

Twice a week, from August to November, a group of students gather in a quiet courtroom at the Sarpy County Courthouse to practice performing a Mock Trial.

A Mock Trial is executed in the same way as a real trial. Schools compete against one another to give the best overall performance of a given legal case.

Junior Savannah Gillin first learned about Bellevue West’s Mock Trial team from her friends, and is now a part of the team.

“Mock Trial is basically executed like a regular court trial would be,” Gillin said. “So you have the two sides; the plaintiff and the defense and then the witnesses.”

English teacher Megan Brewer originally started Mock Trial as a way for advanced students to expand on their academic talents.

It was initially started because I wanted [High Ability Learners] students to have an option of an activity that helps them hone in on different academic and career-ready talents, such as study of the rule of law and reading, writing, and speaking skills,” Brewer said in an email.

Mock Trial competitions are judged by real lawyers who determine winners based on categories such as compiling with all rules of the competition and spirit of fair play, speaking clearly and distinctly, observing courtroom decorum, and using their time effectively.

Because students are judged on how they behave while giving their part, competitions can be very strict. Junior Mooshoo Tran is familiar with the stress of competitions, yet still enjoys them.   

“Our rehearsals are way more relaxed,” Tran said. “Real competitions are dead silent and it’s so nerve-racking, but it’s pretty fun.”

To prepare, the mock trial team holds practices after school in order to prepare their presentation.

“The trial requires diligent practice of opening and closing statements, direct and cross examinations, submitting exhibits for evidence, and objecting,” Brewer said. “They have put so much time and effort into learning the rule of law as well as honing in on their professional and speaking skills.”

In order to help Mock Trial students learn all of the specifics to law as well as courtroom etiquette, the team uses a lawyer coach. Bellevue West alumnus Todd West is the assisting lawyer to the team.

Many students who participate in Mock Trial have found that it helps them to develop their presentation skills.

“It teaches you how to think quickly,” Gillin said.

Tran has found that Mock Trial has both been fun and informative.

“I definitely have a bigger understanding of how court cases work,” Tran said. “It was also something that intrigued me so it’s kind of a win-win situation for me.”  

Gillin agreed.

“I think it will help me establish that I’m a dedicated student on a resume for applying to college,” Gillin said. “If you’re interested in law it kinda shows you the inner workings of what being a lawyer would be like.”

Tran also believes that Mock Trial is a great outlet for students interested in law.

“If you’re curious at all about how court cases or the judicial system works it’s a really good experience,” Tran said.

The Mock Trial team will compete at state on Dec. 4.

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Mock Trial qualifies for state