Mock Trial takes home second place

Kelsey Lu

The 2017 Empire Battle of the Bay begins as students dressed in ties and blazers roll in. The event, which took place in San Francisco from Oct. 5 to Oct. 9, was an international mock trial competition in which high school teams participated in a series of rounds to advance to the championships in hopes of winning first place. This year, Lynbrook’s mock trial team competed for the first time in the Empire competition and took home second place, adding to their collection of awards.

The Lynbrook mock trial team began preparing for the Empire competition in late July by reviewing the case which was Meric Calief v. Prisoners of Western America (POWA). Teams argued for both the prosecuting and defending sides: how POWA caused Calief, a prisoner who was released from the correctional facility, to commit suicide, or how the facility had no correlation to his death. After reviewing the facts of the case, they created timelines, wrote their opening statements and closing statements and practiced for the competition.

“The attorneys had to do a lot of preparation for this event by going through many drafts and examining the witness statements,” said sophomore Raka Acharya. “They had to write down all these examinations until our coach was happy with them. For witnesses, we had to memorize our witness statements and say it in ways that sounded natural in the courtroom.”

Before each round in the competition, teams had a 15-minute pre-trial conference where representatives from each team met and announced their witness lineup and additional information related to the case. At the same time, a guest witness introduction took place in which a witness from one team would be the witness for another team. The four rounds then commenced with the plaintiff and defense teams competing in two rounds, each presenting their stance on the case. Scores are counted by the win to loss ratio after each round; Lynbrook won three out of four rounds, advancing them to the championship.

“When we went to Empire, we did it for the educational experience, so our main goal was to do our best and learn from the experience to help us in our county level,” said senior president Alina Wan. “I think this experience really boosted our confidence and helped us become more comfortable in the courtroom, showcasing our strengths more.”

The event was almost over, with one last day for the award ceremony as well as the championship round, when the Lynbrook team unofficially found out that they had advanced to the championships.

“The tournament organizer called us on our way back from the competition and said, ‘Hey, you should really come to the award ceremony,’ and I thought, ‘If we are getting an award, why not just mail it to us?’” said Coach Mark Shem. “Then the tournament organizer ever so slightly hinted that it would be worth our while to go. The hard part of this was to get the team to come without spilling the beans.”

The team views the experience as another step toward performing successfully in the county level and hopes to build upon this experience. They plan to compete in more state competitions before considering another competition like Empire.

“We had a good win at Empire but we cannot rest on just that,” said Shem. “Just because we did well in Empire doesn’t mean we will automatically do well in the county level. We still have to work hard.”