Meet Mock Trial

Team gets a glimpse into the legal world.


Jessica Tyler

2020 Mock Trial Team

Jacob Self, Writer

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Laguna’s participation in the Mock Trial program. The team competes annually by preparing strategies and legal arguments for trial for either the defense or prosecution.

Each year, the Constitutional Rights Foundation releases a case packet that is relevant to noteworthy legal issues that are pertinent to the future generation.

Within this packet is the map to trial that includes case law, witness statements, exhibits and rules of evidence to bring a case to life.

At the start of each competition, the team is divided into two teams – students are placed on either the Defense or Prosecution team.

Within those teams, students are assigned roles based on one’s particular interest as a pretrial attorney, attorney, witness, bailiff, or clerk.

Participating in the competition requires hours upon hours of planning, preparation, practice and substantial familiarity of the case so as to be memorized in order to give a convincing and clean rendition of the case on the day of the competition.

On the day of the competition, each team battles other local county schools trying to get a verdict of either guilty or not guilty.

During the trial witness statements evolve into a character, and the witness is to answer questions while on the stand, and prepare to answer questions from opposing attorneys.

The bailiff acts as the officer of the court and ensures that those in the room follow courtroom rules while the clerk has the task of managing the time for trial.

Attorneys, meanwhile, are tasked with presenting pretrial arguments arguing for or against evidence coming into trial, conducting opening and closing arguments, examining witnesses, raising and arguing objections, and managing the overall arguments for or against the defendant.

All of the hard work that goes into each case, however, helps the participating students to form a better grasp of how the American legal system functions.

And for some, a glimpse of what going into the field of law might portray for those that aspire to be a practicing attorney one day.

On this subject, Peter Smith, the oldest continuously-participating attorney on the team, said, “Mock trial allows us to delve forth in the minutia of the law and really understand how it functions and works and really transcend the current zeitgeist of misinformation.”

All of the functions of mock trial are, of course, impossible without its Teacher Coach, Jessica Tyler, and the attorney coaches who volunteer their time to help coach the team to become more efficient, knowledgeable and capable of handling the many intricacies of arguing a court case.  A special thank you to our Attorney Coaches Annie Hayes, Alumni Parents Stephen and Carol King, Parent Neil Levinson, Alumni Parent Dawn O’Donnell.

On the day of the competition, Laguna won three out of its four cases, with pretrial attorney Rhami Zeini and witness Robbie Dunn winning an honorable mention, and Audrey Murphy taking home the first place medal for her role as bailiff.

Tyler shared that teaching Mock Trial makes her think back to her early years in high school when she shared the same vision as some students to one day be a practicing attorney.

While she is not practicing now, she knows that leading this program is exactly where she should be and is beyond grateful for this opportunity not only for herself, but for the students to develop their mind in skills that are different from any classroom experience.  She wishes the team Congratulations for each success that contributed to a memorable day of getting to the courthouse steps!