The Carmel High mock trial team won the Monterey County competition for the second year in a row and is heading to the California state finals on March 18th.
Last year the team placed 6th out of 35 teams at the state competition, the best finish ever for any team from Monterey County.
In last month’s county competition, the team faced Soledad, Alvarez and Santa Catalina before facing archrival Pacific Grove in the finals. The Padres pulled out a slim victory, and for the second year in a row sent the Breakers home in the finals.
This year’s case involves the death of a college security guard after an altercation with a member of the university’s track team. The officer was beaten and choked, resulting in a two week coma before eventually dying. The case determines whether the officer’s death was an act of voluntary aggression or defense of another from the track star.
“It’s kind of unusual as far as mock trial cases go,” supervisor Bill Schrier notes. “It’s also an unusual theory for homicide.”
Junior attorney Mindy Morgan says, “I think the most important part of mock trial is knowing the facts, especially if you’re a lawyer. If someone messes up, it’s your job to know the facts.”
But the team needs much more than just lawyers to win a trial. The team also has witnesses, a bailiff and a timekeeper/clerk.
“From the start to the end of the trial, everything we do is done together,” Morgan continues. “If everybody isn’t on the same page and focused together, it won’t work out.”
This team practices sometimes up to 12 hours a week, including weekdays, weekends and individual work.
“It’s the hardest working team we’ve ever had, and that’s saying something for a mock trial team,” Schrier says. “At the beginning of the year, team president Mindy Morgan came in and said, ‘We need to practice during the week,’ which has always been a challenge…. We’ve done that since August—Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 to sometimes 8:00 at night.”
All of the team’s hours together have resulted in one of the tightest knit groups on campus.
“My favorite part about mock trial is the people and relationships we form with each other,” says four-year member and attorney Yuan Tao. “It sounds cliché, but we really are a family. I know I can count on them for anything, in or out of the courtroom.”
The team hopes to improve on last year’s already impressive finish, and believes they have the ability to do so.
“It’s really hard to predict how trials will go, especially against other competitive schools,” junior attorney Anna Gumberg says. “But I think if everything goes well, we could make a really nice run.”