Order in the Court
“All rise.” As the judge spoke the words, my peers and I stood in unison and faced the front of the courtroom. “Would the defense team like to introduce themselves?” It was sophomore year and my first competition in Mock Trial.
I was representing an expert witness, testifying on behalf of the defendant who was being tried for assault. My nerves were getting to me and I was only about fifteen minutes away from being called to the stand. After the pre-trial motion and the opening arguments from each side, it was my turn to be questioned and cross-examined. I took a deep breath and prepared myself to get into the character of a forensic scientist, even adding a pair of glasses for an extra touch. The alleged assault in the case was carried out with the use of a brick and because I was on the defense side, I had to do my best to use my witness statement to relay other possibilities for the victim’s wounds (aside from an attack by the defendant). All the defense has to do is provide reasonable doubt about the defendant’s culpability, but all witnesses in mock trial must also stick to the facts of their provided witness statements. As I raised my hand and vowed to tell the truth, I got behind the stand and attempted to convince a courtroom full of people that it was highly probably that a brick could’ve fallen from the top of a building by chance, hitting the victim in the street and knocking them out. As ridiculous as my testimony was, the facts came straight from my witness statement and I attempted to deliver them as convincingly as possible. I ended up scoring well with the judges, who told me that I had made a completely improbable opinion sound legitimate.
So, if you haven’t guessed by now, while most students spend their Tuesday afternoons verifying trigonometry identities or reading Chaucer, I, along with the rest of the CSUS Mock Trial team, review case materials, cross-examine witnesses and find ways around objections. I totally stumbled into Mock Trial and joined only because a friend recommended it, but with it I’ve found the perfect mix of acting, debate and the law. It’s only a year from my first case, but in two days I’ll be giving the closing argument for the prosecution side against schools like Menlo and Hillsdale High. I’m no longer a witness, but a lawyer, and will be doing my best to convince the judge to rule the defendant guilty. That’s the fun of Mock Trial, a witness one year, a lawyer another.