Mater Dei Mock Trial Team introduces new team structure, prepares for the upcoming season


Charlotte de Leon

WITNESS SWEARS IN Sophomore attorney, Angela Karanja, temporarily plays the role of bailiff to swear in Junior witness, Anthony Laguna, during a mock trial scrimmage for the Gray Team. To ensure that witnesses do not lie or make up scenarios that are not from the case packet, they swear to tell the complete truth in both their direct and cross examinations. “My favorite part of mock trial is the experience of learning how a real court case works with my friends, and people I look up to,” Karanja said.

Charlotte de Leon, Managing Editor

Mater Dei High School has an expansive selection of extracurricular activities, from student publications to performing arts, and, of course, its highly competitive athletic programs. However, one extracurricular activity stands apart from these categories: Mater Dei’s Mock Trial Team.

Mock Trial is an after-school academic team that simulates court cases. Students pose most notably as attorneys and witnesses. The positions of the bailiff, who maintains order in the court and swears in witnesses, and clerk, an experienced timekeeper, are also appointed for the defense and prosecution teams respectively. Competitions run throughout the fall season, with practices occurring twice a week after school on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Initially, Mock Trial started off as one small group of students. Head Coach Michaël Fischer of Mock Trial recalls the beginning of the program on campus.

“In the early years, we only had one team, maybe only fifteen students,” Fischer said. “It was just me and one [other] teacher moderator. And a bunch of really smart students who gave it their all.”

This year alone, Mock Trial has expanded into three distinct teams, doubling the number of students involved. Fischer is pleased with the growing interest in Mock Trial.

“To see young people willing to devote time to something like law is something that makes me proud of what we’ve built here,” Fischer said. “Because it’s not just law, it’s a team. And seeing the students develop over the course of four years is all the reward I can ask for.”

This year, there is a Varsity team (Scarlet), a JV team (Gray), and the Frosh/Soph team (Gremlins). Scarlet and Gray compete against all California Mock Trial teams in Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) competitions that take place in the Orange County Courthouse, and Gremlins compete against local schools at JSerra High School.

Sophomore Evan Von Rotz joined Mock Trial this year. As an aspiring lawyer, he has the role of a prosecution attorney for the Gray Team. Von Rotz is excited for this season and explains what he hopes to accomplish this year.

“I hope we win and I hope I can get better at speaking and being confident speaking in front of people,” Von Rotz said.

Other aspects of Mock Trial that Von Rotz likes are the community and case packets.

“[I really like] meeting new people and being able to work and study a case,” Von Rotz said.

Freshman Angelica Posey is a defense witness who particularly enjoys the acting aspect of Mock Trial. Mock Trial gives her the opportunity to practice her passion.

“I decided to join Mock Trial because I love arguing and acting and being a witness [is] great,” Posey said.

As the defendant specifically, Posey has learned to stand her ground. Posey practices this skill for instance while being accused of murder by the prosecution attorneys in cross examinations. This is one of her favorite parts of Mock Trial.

“I love being a witness. [I am] being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in perfect self defense and murder,” Posey said.

Student Captain and Scarlet Attorney Hailey Mouat has been on the Mock Trial team for three years. This is her first year as an attorney, as she has been a witness for two years. Mouat shares her positive experiences with the team and being a student captain for the first time.

“It’s really fun,” Mouat said. “I love Mock Trial. And I really like how I can lead and teach others about Mock Trial and share one of my passions with them.”

Although Mouat spontaneously joined Mock Trial her freshman year, she is glad for the opportunity to be a part of the team. She has taken away skills that prepare her for not only Mock Trial competitions but also her school life, especially regarding public speaking.

“[Mock Trial] has taught me how to branch out and meet new people,” Mouat said. “It’s given me a lot of leadership experience, and this made me a lot more comfortable with public speaking. I actually look forward to class presentations because I no longer fear them. It’s definitely helped my confidence and my improv skills.”

Mouat believes that the key to success in Mock Trial, just like life, is confidence. She encourages students to try out for Mock Trial and embrace their inner assertiveness.

“Just be confident,” Mouat said. “Just try out. Fake it ‘til you make it. Best case scenario you’re gonna get in [and] you’re gonna have so many friends.”