Mock Trial picks up win in first competition of the year

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Carissa Chan

Mock Trial coach Jim Torre speaks with juniors Pooja Pandey and Sean Lee, members of Mock Trial. The MVHS Mock Trial team defeated Santa Clara High School by 41 points. Photo by Kevin Guo.

Updated on Feb. 15.

The MVHS Mock Trial team defeated Mountain View High School in the third round of the Mock Trial competition on Feb. 9. With a final score of 253-247, MVHS’ defense team scored six more points than Mountain View’s prosecution, raising MVHS’ record to 3-0.

According to MVHS defense witness junior Bryan Wang, Mock Trial coach Jim Torre helped a lot with the team’s preparation for the murder case, and the defense lawyers effectively used objections in the case, all of which contributed to the win. Last year, the team went 1-3 in the preliminaries; according to Torre, this is the first time in the competition’s 31-year history that a team has bounced back from a 1-3 record to secure a 3-0 start in the next year.

MVHS will take the side of the prosecution against Mitty High School on Feb. 16 for the fourth preliminary round. A victory would send MVHS to the quarterfinals.

“The [opposing] teams are getting really good,” Wang said. “[But] we’re more polished. Our witnesses practice, and our lawyers know what they’re doing.”

Updated on Feb. 8.

On Feb. 7, the MVHS Mock Trial team defense went against against Homestead High School’s prosecution team in the second preliminary round of the Mock Trial competition. MVHS won by a final score of 232-219.

The case was the same murder case used for the first round of the competition, but MVHS took the defense in the second round with defense lawyers senior Lisa Zhang and juniors Kevin Guo and Christie Lin. MVHS received 17 full scores of five in various categories to take 51% of the points awarded.

MVHS now advances to the third preliminary round. The defense will go against Mountain View High School’s prosecution on Feb. 9.

Check back on El Estoque for an update on the Mock Trial competition on Feb. 9.

On the night of Feb. 2, during the first competition of the year, the MVHS Mock Trial prosecution team presented a murder case, following the procedure that professional lawyers use, and defeated Santa Clara High School’s defense with a decisive 250-209 score.

The prosecution team, composed of juniors Sean Lee and Christie Lin and sophomore Vishnu Shankar, took 55% of the judges’ votes as they presented the case. Though both the counts were returned as not guilty, scoring is independent of the verdict, and MVHS won by nearly 10%.

The student prosecutors prepared an opening statement and built the case around the words of the testifying prosecution witnesses, also played by students. The prosecutors then had the opportunity to cross-examine the student defense witnesses from SCHS. After three rounds of this, one for each of the defense witnesses, MVHS received multiple full scores of five in various categories to secure the win.

The team had 26 minutes to present the entire case, which, according to Mock Trial coach Jim Torre, is very little time to build a compelling argument for the panel of judges. In addition, Torre said that the student lawyers of Mock Trial, which carries 12 members selected at the beginning of the school year, are held at the same high standard as professional ones.

“You’re thirty years old in the court. You’re not a teenager. You’re an adult,” Torre said. “[But] this team has a lot of talent. They’re a close-knit team, they’re aggressive, and they have great coaching.”

Torre credits the success to the team members’ dedication and hard work — they have been preparing for this competition since October 2011. They will now advance to the second round on Feb. 7, in which the defense will go against Homestead High School’s prosecution. If Mock Trial wins the next three bracket-style preliminary rounds, they will compete in the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and then the finals, which will take place on Feb. 28.

“The experience of being in a real trial room, presenting a real case and getting critique from real judges is unmatched at [MVHS],” Shankar said. According to Torre, Shankar is one of the best student lawyers he has seen in the county.

And as for the upcoming second preliminary round, Torre and Shankar say that the team’s commitment and many hours of preparation will take care of them.

“We have wonderful coaching and a wonderful team,” Shankar said. “We can certainly go far with the team we have.”