Mock Trial Advances to “Elite 8”

From+left+to+right%3A+Cam+Nguyen+%2722%2C+Emily+Perez+%2722%2C+Julia+Trowbridge+%2722%2C+Emily+Li+%2722%2C+Kaylie+Keegan+%2721%2C+Tatum+Pike+%2720%2C+Erin+Dollard+%2720%2C+Steven+Pang+%2722.

Courtesy of Drew Evans

From left to right: Cam Nguyen '22, Emily Perez '22, Julia Trowbridge '22, Emily Li '22, Kaylie Keegan '21, Tatum Pike '20, Erin Dollard '20, Steven Pang '22.

Groton’s Mock Trial team, founded and coached this year by new Physics fellow Andrew Evans, will compete at the Massachusetts state tournament later this month. The team is one of 32 teams to make it to the first round of the tournament after beating Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Lunenburg High School, and Francis Parker Charter School in the preliminaries.

On March 1, the team advanced in the state tournament, winning two more rounds to make it to the “Elite 8.” On March 12, Groton will compete for the state title.

In Mock Trial, students simulate a real criminal trial, acting as court reporters, news reporters, witness coaches, and attorney consultants. Success in mock trials relies on the students’ public speaking skills, critical thinking, and knowledge of courtroom decorum and procedures. Judges score students on a scale of one to ten. Every match consists of two schools and a judge (who both presides over the trial and determines the winner of the round), with one team as defense and the other as prosecution.

Mr. Evans organized scrimmages before each trial to make sure the team was well prepared; he created a practice team in order to give the real team a chance to run through their material in a “real-trial” setting. The team had four scrimmages in total, one before each preliminary round. 

“If it weren’t for these scrimmage rounds, we would not have gotten anywhere close to where we are now,” said Mr. Evans. “In general, practice makes perfect; the more that we get to run our material, the more confidently we will say it and know it in trial.”

A very experienced mock trial competitor, Mr. Evans was the president of Haverford College’s Mock Trial team and played an attorney on the school’s first team to ever make it to the state tournament. 

When asked about Groton’s successes in the preliminary rounds, Mr. Evans said, “I, to a certain extent, had good expectations because Groton students are very smart and very well-spoken.” 

However, according to Mr. Evans, there will be a large jump in competition against good teams with more experienced competitors who have been going to state for three to four years. 

In the preliminary rounds, the teams are informed in advance which side they would be on, but at the state tournament, the teams will flip a coin to decide whether they will be on defense or prosecution. This could potentially affect Groton’s performance as the team has not competed without advanced preparation. 

“Our biggest weakness is the little things, such as knowing our objections –– the acts of testifying certain statements that violated the rules –– and being able to defend objections,” said Mr. Evans. “We need to have the ability to respond well and to know the rules while adapting to what is happening in the trial. Our attorneys need to know what that judge wants, and our witnesses need to understand what affects their credibility.” 

“States will be our biggest challenge yet mostly due to our lack of experience, but we are optimistic,” said Erin Dollard ’20, a Mock Trial captain. 

“We have put a lot of work in, and it’s exciting that we get to continue to states. It’s been a lot of fun and we’re ready to give it our best shot!” added Julia Trowbridge ’22, a witness on the team. “Since most of my teammates have never been to a state tournament, we are not sure what the expectations are, but we are excited to give it our best shot.”Tatu