Let’s be honest, does anyone really know what Mock Trial is? I definitely didn’t, but now that I’ve learned more about it, it seems like a really cool activity for students at West.
Mr. Taber, the program supervisor, explained to me how it works: “You get a court case that real life lawyers create—actually, one of the creators is the attorney for the Salt Lake City School District. The students have to memorize the case and learn the case, but then they have to present it to real judges in a courtroom. They act as lawyers, witnesses, and bailiffs. Though they memorize a lot of it, a lot of it is impromptu; they have to know the law and how to think on their feet. Students meet with actual lawyers who come and teach them how to be a lawyer, essentially.” Students work in teams for Mock Trial and compete against other teams in court. This gives teams the opportunity to compete on a national level. It does require a lot of time and commitment from students, including weekly meetings and time out of class. Any West students can join if they’re willing to make the commitment. If you’re interested in joining Mock Trial, go to Mr. Taber’s room (C417) at the start of the year.
There are three different sections: the junior team (grades 7-9), the senior team (grades 10-12), and the traveling team, who get to travel for mock trials throughout the year. Mr. Taber told me about the teams’ competition results so far: “This year, we took second in state; we outperformed the other team in a legal perspective, but the other team outperformed us in a theatrical perspective. But this year, going into it, we were ranked number one the entire year. We’re very good; we’re usually the team to beat.”
I talked to a few students who are participating in Mock Trial to hear their thoughts on the program. Atticus Teter, a sophomore doing his first year of Mock Trial, explained his point of view: “Mock Trial is a great program to help develop your critical reading and thinking, argumentation, and public speaking skills.” He also told me a bit about the process: “To prepare for Mock Trial, we meet as a team with an attorney to prepare opening statements and lines of questioning, as well as legal and procedural arguments. The case changes each year; this year’s case was about a murder at a real estate development, but past cases have covered various criminal as well as civil cases.”
Brendon Young has been doing Mock Trial since his freshman year, making this his third year of participating in Mock Trial. Brendon told me about his time with the program: “My experience with Mock Trial has been very rewarding. Each practice is very fun and very engaging with law. We practice a lot of objections and arguments which teaches us case law and how to articulate it in a meaningful way in court. Because of Mock Trial, I have developed better speaking, collaboration, and insight in law. Every practice has pizza too, so there will be no hungry mock trialers.
Mock Trial sounds like a great experience, especially for students who are interested in pursuing law as a career. Go talk to Mr. Taber in room C417 for more information if you want to learn more. Congratulations to our West teams for all the great work they’ve done this year!