Growing mock trial team to host collegiate academy

The Carmel High mock trial team has experienced a huge amount of change this year, with a whopping turnout of around 50 new members, a prestigious academy visiting campus, and the international Empire competition coming up.

Club Advisor Bill Schrier says the team is continuing on an upward trend that started roughly four years ago. A record-breaking 60 participants have been attending the beginning-of-the-year mock trial meetings.

“This year is crazy busy,” Schrier acknowledges.

With these huge numbers and only 14 spots to fill on the final presenting team, the club leaders have had to make some tough decisions. Tryouts will be held soon to determine a core group of 25 students.

Mock Trial attorney Erika DePalatis, Yuan Tao and Gina Sakoda take notes during a cross-examination in a scrimmage against Moreau Catholic.

Mock Trial attorney Erika DePalatis, Yuan Tao and Gina Sakoda take notes during a cross-examination in a scrimmage against Moreau Catholic.

Despite the stress and tension caused by the influx of new participants, the older members of the team are excited for the prestigious U.C. Irvine Mock Trial Academy that will be coming to Carmel on Saturday.

Carmel High is the first Northern Californian school to host the academy, and Schrier expects a few other northern school teams to participate. The event will take place in the center for performing arts and has an expected attendance of between 100 and 200 students.

“Not only will it open it up for more Carmel High School students to be able to go, but it will also open it up for other schools around the peninsula who haven’t attended in the past,” senior club president Erika DePalatis says of the Irvine clinic.

The U.C. Irvine mock trial team is ranked fifth on the national college level, so it is very exciting that Carmel’s students will be able to work with them, DePalatis notes.

The academy includes activities in which students are broken down into smaller groups. According to DePalatis, each person has to prepare an opening statement and then present it to their group. The group members then judge which student presented the best and has that person present to the bigger audience.

Besides all of the buzz over the Irvine Academy, the club is also looking forward to the international Empire Competition that will be taking place in San Francisco from Nov. 20-24.

The Empire Competition is a large mock trial competition held to the college level rules, and it allows for teams from all over the world to scrimmage against each other. All 24 teams have been given the same case information to memorize and develop into a dynamic argument. Many of Carmel High’s participants are most excited about the fact that they get to compete against other countries, such as Ireland and Korea.

“It’s crazy that we’re going to be able to interact with all these people from different countries,” second-year mock trial member Lindsay James says.

Carmel High’s team is also enthusiastic about Empire because there is more flexibility in the college level competition rules.

“Everything is a lot more complicated,” DePalatis says. “But it’s also a lot more versatile and kind of fun because you get to play around with things more.”

The team is feeling especially confident about the competition because in their Oct. 11 scrimmage against Clovis North High School, another team competing at Empire, they were successful in proving that they were a much stronger team.
-Megan Holett, Mock trial participant