School Spotlight: Mock Trial

Sharon Sun, Photojournalist

With the bang of the gavel, the trial begins. For the next few hours, two fierce teams battle in the courtroom, replacing guns with words and swords with objections. At last, after a calculation of collective points, the team with the most wins the round, and moves on to the next, awaiting another battle for another day. 


This is the tournament that the Yorba Linda High mock trial team prepares for every week. In the classroom, they study the case testimonies: written accounts of case witnesses prepared for the Orange County Mock Trial competition by certified authors. Upon examining these testimonies, attorneys then produce direct-examinations with a witness, a series of questions to be asked before the judge to a specified witness. 


Witnesses, in turn, must memorize the answers to these questions and respond accordingly in front of the judge while being scored. Afterwards, witnesses are subjected to cross-examinations, questions asked by the opposing team’s attorneys in accordance with the witness testimonies in order to solicit a response favoring the opposing team. 


And lastly is pre-trial, one of the most daunting positions, in which two specified attorneys from each team debate with each other and the judge to validate or remove a certain, and often crucial, piece of evidence in the trial, using previous case examples and their sheer wit. Overall, every single member of the team is required to stand, compose themselves, and speak before an audience, the teams, the judge, and their scorers. 


The Yorba Linda Mock Trial team’s heavy demand and use of speaking and critical-thinking skills are part of its appeal for many of its members. It helps people with their memorization and speaking skills, as well as a constant need for smooth collaboration between teammates to ensure the success of their argument. Overall, mock trial has helped many of its members grow their abilities in public speaking and other essential leadership expertise.


Cissy Bai (12), a pretrial attorney, talks about the benefits of joining mock trial and its aid in the growth of her skills. “Over the past years, mock trial has taught me how to work effectively in teams and how to communicate effectively. It also stresses the importance of forming a bond with your teammates, and it has helped me with my leadership and debate skills,” she says. With new advisor Ms. Mathieson in the lead and a certified attorney guiding a motivated new squad, the Yorba Linda Mock Trial team is on its way to tournament glory.