Morro Bay High School’s Mock Trial participated in their court case on Saturday, February 1 with a record of 1 out of 3 of the presentations won after the defense was the only group to proceed in the competition. The club, made up of 17 students, has met every Monday morning since the second week of school and allows students to get a taste of how court cases work and, for some, what potential future careers could look like. Advised by Mr. Mammarella, Mock Trial is built around requiring students to accurately play their parts to help support their side.
This year’s case revolved around a murder trial for the main case and around charges of unreasonable search and seizure for the pretrial. Rather than compete directly against each other, the prosecution and defense each presented their case on different days in front of an official judge against Coast Union High School and Templeton High School for the prosecution and Atascadero High School and Mission Prep for the defense. Each year the winner is decided based on how each team scored on a rubric rather than by the trial’s verdict.
Student Eli Bell (sophomore) has participated in Mock Trial since his freshman year and was assigned to work during the Pre-Trial stage of the case, meaning that he is involved in determining if there is enough evidence for a trial to take place. When talking about what the process of preparing for being a part of the pre-trial was like, Bell said that he spent most of the time “researching cases that related to our case, the connection being the breaching of someone’s 4th amendment rights.” Overall, he felt that even though the group would not be progressing to further competitions he still “felt that we held our own and did our school proud.”
At its core Mock Trial works to give its participants experience in a career that some of its members may one day have. Through this process Bell said that his “perception of real life court cases has changed for the better, seeing judges actually make rulings I have slightly more confidence in judges remaining impartial.” Even though Bell doesn’t personally plan to pursue law in the future he still feels that “skills gained from mock trial, such as preparation, public speaking, and quick wit are irreplaceable skills that apply to most careers.” His knowledge of how the nation’s law works has also been strengthened by his experiences in both Mock Trial and law-based electives: “Going into these classes and mock trial, I had strong beliefs on our country’s law system. Some of these beliefs have been reinforced with gained knowledge, but most have been changed as I gained a greater understanding of the inner workings of rules and regulations, and how they affect millions of Americans.”
According to Bell, Mock Trial is “a calm environment where you can do whatever individual work you need to get done, as well as get help and practice with teammates.” He also encouraged anyone who might be interested to join, saying that the time is “incredibly fun” and “invaluable.”