CHS mock trial strikes back at Empire Competition

During late November, the Carmel High School mock trial team dominated at the Empire Competition in San Francisco, an international tournament of 22 teams, where Carmel took second place. Both sophomore member Teejan Saddy and junior Anna Gumberg, mock trial vice president, won individual awards.

“Winning the best attorney award was a huge honor,” Gumberg says. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it because everyone at the tournament was so talented! Nevertheless, it was a great experience to have under my belt.”

According to coach Bill Schrier, the competition is based on a college mock trial case, more sophisticated and complicated than the typical California Mock Trial Competition put on by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

Mock Trial

Sara Phillips, Anna Gumberg, Mindy Morgan and Savannah Foster (from left) take notes during a trial while at the Empire Competition in San Francisco in November.

Out of all the teams Schrier has coached since the team’s beginning in 2005, he says he sees this team as the most hardworking. Practices would go for two hours three times during the school week and four to six hours on Sundays to prepare for the Empire tournament.

“[The team] insisted from very early on to practice during the weekdays,” Schrier explains. “We have always had hard working teams, but this took it to a new level.”

This proves the persistence the team has maintained as it has progressed from the 2014-2015 season in which the team participated in both the Empire Competition and CRF, where they beat Pacific Grove High School in the Monterey County finals and won sixth place at the state competition in Irvine, Calif., last March.

“If CRF is anything like Empire, you can expect a good run from the team,” says Alex Poletti, sophomore team member. “We have a lot of talent, and we’re ready to win the county tournament and have a top five finish at state. This team has potential to be the best one we’ve seen at Carmel High.”

With a great end to the Empire tournament, the team is now preparing for the Monterey County competition scheduled to take place in late January. According to Schrier, the CRF case is much simpler, consequently making it much harder. He says it’s constrained and difficult to be creative and stay inside the bounds.

To Mindy Morgan, the team president and junior, one of the arising challenges since the team’s participation in the Empire tournament has been the switch in gears and focus between Empire and CRF.

“This year we had less than two weeks to write and prepare the CRF case and put people into roles,” Morgan says. “Even though that has been challenging, everyone works really hard, and we all work together to get it done.”

Saddy also notes that mock trial is very time-consuming and lots of effort is required, but it’s definitely worth it.

“Mock trial is much more than the work and law,” Saddy says, “but many members love the team aspect and being part of such a loving and supportive team.”

“I learned how to be a teammate,” sophomore team member Becca Goren says. “I have always done dance which is so individual, so this is the first time I have ever been on a team with people I have to rely on and have to rely on me. It’s like a family.”

-Joyce Doherty