Mock Trial Almost Qualifies for County Final Championships

Last Saturday, January 18, Lawrenceville’s Mock Trial Team attended the Vincent J. Apruzzese High School Mock Trial Competition, held at the Criminal Court Building in Trenton, N.J. Competitive Mock Trial challenges students to simulate a court trial given an existing fact pattern for a hypothetical criminal or civil case.

Last Saturday, January 18, Lawrenceville’s Mock Trial Team attended the Vincent J. Apruzzese High School Mock Trial Competition, held at the Criminal Court Building in Trenton, N.J. Competitive Mock Trial challenges students to simulate a court trial given an existing fact pattern for a hypothetical criminal or civil case. Each competing school develops a prosecution and defense team, each with two attorneys and three witnesses. Prosecution and defense teams from competing schools then present their cases against each other, with a panel of practicing judges and attorneys who score each team’s performance.

Despite defeating the qualifying team, the Lawrenceville team did not end with enough points to qualify for the County Final Championships. However, Team Captain Jimmy Chen ’20 expressed pride with regards to the team’s progress: “This year for us was a rebuilding and development year, as we lost four [V Formers] last year,” he explained. “I think we’ve developed a strong base of underclassmen who will be ready to make their mark in next year’s competition.”

The team also had its highlights, with a particularly stellar performance from Kajal Dongre ’22, who stepped in as an alternate attorney mere weeks before the competition date. On her experience, she said, “Mock Trial… is a huge challenge because it tests your ability to research and come up with a strong case based on evidence as well as your ability to think on your feet if things go unexpectedly.”

Mock Trial veteran Chelsea Wang ’21 remarked on the excitement of the “the mental sparring of the competition,” which “requires complete confidence in [competitors’] knowledge and ability.” Reflecting on the team’s performance, she continued, “I have a lot of hope in the new members of our team, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Lawrenceville’s Mock Trial team practices in the Heely Room for an hour and a half each Wednesday, receiving training and guidance from English Master Champ Atlee ’62 H’74 ’75 ’79 ’83 ’84 ’87 ’89 ’06 P’92 and two attorney coaches, Chris DeAngelo and Lydia Keephart. The team drills memorization of their speeches and works to strengthen their cases. Students will spend the rest of the year preparing for Spring Trial, in which teams are reshuffled, providing underclassmen the opportunity to serve as attorneys in a lower-stakes setting. Chen is excited to jump into the rest of the season. “Being able to lead the team I’ve been on for four years is an honor,” he explains. “It’s so rewarding because I get to share my love of trial law with underclassman and see their own interests develop.”