What is: Highland Mock Trial

Our school has a wide variety of clubs and activities that students can join; Mock Trial is one of the longest-standing. Today, we’ll get a closer look at the team, their advisor, and why students chose to participate in this event.

Mrs. Procell, Advisor for Mock Trial (be sure to check out our interview article on her, too!)

Mrs. Procell, who advises Mock Trial, gave us some insight into this activity. During the interview, she explained that each year students get a new casebook with witness statements and intricate details of a fictional case.

This year’s case was explained to be the theft of a ring, allegedly once belonging to Shakespeare, by the roommate of an actor. It is said that during a short struggle, the ring was stolen and the owner’s arm wound up broken. Fairly interesting!

We asked Mrs. Procell how accurate Mock Trial is to trials in real life. Mrs. Procell told us that they were, “About 90% accurate. There are a few things that are changed for issues of fairness and time… But I would say that it is fairly representative of what happens in a real trial.” Even the location of Mock Trial competitions is accurate with students venturing all the way to the Kern County Superior Court to present their cases — now that feels real!

The Highland Mock Trial defense team, all geared up and ready for a fair trial!

Students play the roles of the defense and prosecution teams for these cases. They can also present as witnesses, bailiffs, or clerks. These teams painstakingly develop arguments for their side of the case. At the courthouse, they present these cases to opposing teams from other schools and respond to the opposing arguments. 

Mrs. Procell also notes that “once the trial starts it’s all student-run, there’s no adult interference at all throughout the whole thing. They play the witnesses, they make the objections, they overcome the objections, they make the opening arguments, closing arguments, everything!” It’s awesome to see that entire court trials are replicated and acted out by students. It just goes to show how much effort is put into this activity!

The prosecution team, more than prepared to break a leg in the courtroom

Mock trial has a lot of preparation and practice that goes into it. Mrs. Procell explains that they, “write the scripts for the attorneys and the witnesses,” and, “work on memorizing them.” On top of this, club members practice responding to any potential objections to their arguments. Students work together to find what can be improved in their presentations and how to get their points across. Mrs. Procell describes this process as, “like a rather large CER paragraph,” something most of us are painfully familiar with.

Acting also plays a large role in Mock Trial. The believability and confidence of students can often make or break competitions. We asked Mrs. Procell about what skills she thought were most important for Mock Trial. “Definitely speaking skills, a lot of improv skills as well.” Anthony R., a member of Mock Trial, agrees with her stating, “it’s a learning opportunity for those who want to build their public speaking skills or potentially go into law.” The club advisor also notes that developing strong arguments and applying the law in different situations are valuable skills gained through Mock Trial.

I definitely recommend doing it, it’s so fun. You get a roll no matter what so might as well go and try.” – Arianna.

Arianna E., explained, “It’s really unique because there are so many different aspects of it. It’s kind of like acting but there’s a lot of writing and discipline involved… and memorization!”Arianna also told us that one of the most enjoyable parts of mock trial for them is objecting, “I love arguing with the other team, being like, No, I’m right. And using objections like “relevance”, that’s my favorite objection.” We asked Arianna about the most challenging aspect of Mock Trial. They said, “Probably writing the scripts. You have to make your own questions and make sure that they’re not going to get objected by the other team.”

We asked another member, Anthony, and he responded, “I would say the most difficult part of Mock Trial would have to be building the confidence to go into a courtroom and present your case.”

“”Mock trial is a great competition to make new friends, learn career skills, and get involved in school.” – Anthony

So that’s Mock Trial! And after spending some time with them, we can see why many students chose to spend all four years participating in this thrilling event. New cases each year, a tight-knit community to work alongside, and a very good Mock Trial coach (Mrs. Procell) to boast, too! For students looking into law or public policy, this is a great way to get a taste of it early on. We wish Highland Mock Trial the best of luck in their future competitions!

“Luffy” — Assistant Editor/Reporter

Anthony R. — Photographer

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