It was a competition requiring immense preparation, strategy, skill and flexibility, but this activity was not about athletics. Regardless, it took a team of students practicing together several times a week for months, working as a cohesive unit to battle until the very end. The event was the Colorado Bar Association High School Mock Trial Competition, and was contested the weekend of Feb. 7-8. The CEC Middle College fielded a strong team this year combining 3 seasoned participants and 3 newcomers. Team members included: Mia Gonzales, Celilia Arroyo Ruiz, Miguel Garcia, Emma Bryant, Savannah Cruz and Raeven Clockston.
This competition takes place once a year, with 12 teams throughout the city attempting to qualify for the State Tournament. Students are assigned a complete case, including all details necessary to contest it in an actual courtroom, including witness statements, evidence and jury information. The students then role-play the case acting as attorneys and witnesses. Each student team is paired against a team from another school with one representing the prosecution and one the defense.
“It takes months of working together to learn the flow of the legal process, practice opening and closing arguments, witness preparation and examination,” said supervising teacher Ben Migliorino.
Students have about three months to prepare from the time they are allowed to read the case to the moment they meet the opposing team in competition. The competition consists of four rounds to give each school the opportunity to take on the various roles.
The Mock Trial program is a chance for students to understand the ins and outs of the legal system as well as gain experience in public speaking, teamwork and quick thinking, as cases can easily take on a life of their own and students must respond to the dynamics of the situation.
This year’s team had a strong showing despite being short-handed (the usual team is 12-members), but did not make it to the state competition. They were, however, a strong force against the school that eventually did advance. Although it wasn’t the result the students were looking for, they rose to the challenge with confidence and courage and fought until the closing gavel was sounded.
Though the team award did not come to CEC, the school did not walk away empty-handed. CEC team member Emma Bryant, was one of six participants in the entire competition who won an Outstanding Attorney Award. For more about Emma, please click here.