Order in the Wildcat Courtroom!

Mock Trial begins second year with veteran experience and high hopes

Above, juniors Hana Hassan, Aileen Kim, and Mark Seymour; Elaine Ahn, sophomore; and Brylee Denbo, junior, work on a case and study their notes to prepare for their first competition of the year. (Claire Seo)

Attorneys quieted and the judge asked, “Is the defense ready to make their argument?”

“Yes, your honor,” the attorney replied.

Mock Trial at Brea Olinda High School is continuing onto their second year, and the competition season began its first-round on Nov. 7 with the prosecution team at Orange County Superior Courthouse in Santa Ana.

Of their preparations for their second season, Reena Boulis, senior, and co-captain of the Mock Trial team, said, “Through the practices every Monday and Thursday, we grew together not only in skill but in our bond too. We’ve worked really hard to get here and I think our first trial really showed off just how hard we worked. During the competition, we collaborated together [and] we had each other’s backs.”

The prosecution team lost their round that day, but the defense team won round two of their first competition on Nov. 14. Beating Santa Margarita Catholic High School by five points with a score of 447 points, Boulis believes that all the hard work to prepare for the competition displayed obvious growth from day one when the team was starting off its new season.

To prepare for the competitions, students on the team prepared and researched their position. Over the past few meetings, the team worked on their case and also welcomed a guest speaker, Police Sgt. Chris Masilon, in order to help with their case and answer questions.

In 2018, Brittany Eaton, history teacher, revived Mock Trial, which had been dormant for a decade, by gathering students interested in law and court systems. Since the club’s return, Eaton’s team has dedicated several hours every week to prepare for court cases. The team has been studying and memorizing past case filings, as well as using critical thinking to rebuttal, argue, and learning to back up their reasoning with factual evidence.

To advance from last year, Eaton stated, “I definitely have expectations for us [the team] to move forward as a team. As a school, culturally, I’m working on building this idea of celebrating and recognizing academic teams separate from clubs. I want them to be celebrated just like how sports teams are celebrated.”

Bryan Clavecilla, the Deputy Attorney of Brea, is also a coach for the team. He explained how proud he was of his students on the Mock Trial team, “I have so many highlights from coaching Mock Trial at BOHS like [how] the team pushed themselves in practice to accomplish what they probably thought they would never be able to do in front of a room full of strangers while having so much fun putting on a trial in a real-life courtroom in front of real-life judges and attorneys.”

“By being able to present speeches, rebuttal opponents, think on the spot and utilize case law, I truly enjoyed the role of pre-trial attorney and my participation in Mock Trial in its entirety,” Patrick Yu, senior, said. “I especially attribute my growth to my teammates and coaches, Eaton, and Clavecilla.”

For students who already have experience in Mock Trial, Eaton is grateful for their help to guide new members by giving them tips on how to develop skills and talent in Mock Trial. For example, members of the team must learn to expand their presentation skills and prepare ahead of time in order to be ready for anything that occurs during competitions.

After the official case brief was announced, the team began preparing right away. Their first round for competitions was on Nov. 7 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, where they competed against other teams to appeal their position to the judge. To prepare for their future competitions, they are meeting every Monday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I want the students of BOHS to know that participating in CRF Mock Trial when I was in high school is why I am a Deputy District Attorney today. Now, I get paid to do what I love. You don’t have to want to be an attorney to do Mock Trial. It’s for everyone,” Clavecilla said.