HomeCampusCourt is in session with CHS Mock Trial finally back in-person

Court is in session with CHS Mock Trial finally back in-person

Published Oct. 8, 2021

By RYAN JALILI

During the pandemic, most afterschool clubs and activities were put on hold, with the exception of the CHS Mock Trial Club. After almost a year and a half of virtual competitions and online scrimmages, the club has finally been granted permission to travel to an away scrimmage at the Silicon Valley Friendly on Dec. 4.

The team has been competing at tournaments for the past 17 years and dominating the competition. The club has won 10 times at the Monterey County tournament and won the California State Tournament in 2017. The team also won the Empire World Championship in 2016. In last year’s virtual Zoom competition, the team finished in sixth place at the state tournament, with senior Logan Falkel, current club president, winning the award for Best Trial Attorney in the state of California. 

“It feels like expectations build every year since our program has had so much success,” Falkel says. “I think something we need to work on this year is to seize every opportunity.”

The future of the participation in competitions this year is uncertain with Covid-19 restrictions changing each day, remaining undecided whether this year’s county Lyceum competition will be held in person or virtually. The club has, however, been granted permission to participate in-person at this year’s Silicon Valley Friendly, and, if there are no issues with Covid-19, the team will be able to compete in-person in the competition for the first time since lockdowns began.

CHS Mock Trial attorneys Tyler Armstrong, Miles Prekoski and Ninamarie Franklin (from front) at the 2019 Empire New York Competition. (Courtesy of CHS YEARBOOK)

This year the team has decided against participating in the Empire New York World Championships to prevent any students from feeling overwhelmed at such a large-scale event without any in-person experience yet. 

“All these underclassmen that have grown up in the program only know how to participate on Zoom or they have had very limited experience in-person, so suddenly they need to be able to adjust,” Falkel explains.

Underclassmen have had an interesting experience with mock trial with last year being completely virtual. For many, this school year is the introduction to actual in-person experience with trials. 

“Since I joined when we were still doing online school, I’m honestly looking forward to just being in a courtroom for the first time,” says two-year member and sophomore Connor Grummon. “I know there are a lot of fun travel opportunities, but I’m just really excited to try cases in-person.”

The CHS team originated 17 years ago when a senior who knew that AP Government and Politics teacher Bill Schrier had previously been a prosecutor asked him to coach the team.  

“At the time I had no idea what it was, but I said sure,” Schrier explains.

Since then, the club has grown over the years into one of the most prestigious and influential clubs on campus. With frequent meetings, researching cases for hours at a time and weekend scrimmages, the club has also grown to be one of the most challenging and work-heavy clubs.

But for many students, mock trial has become a place for creating friendships.

“Students tell me all the time that mock trial is the greatest thing they did in high school,” says Schrier. “They’re not saying that because they learned about the law, they’re saying that because they’ve met people who are going to be their friends throughout high school and beyond. Mock trials breeds that kind of connection because it’s hard. Going through something like that creates really strong bonds.” 

CHS Mock Trial meets every Monday in Room 24 at lunch and participates in virtual scrimmages on weekends.

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