A Trial of Success

A huge victory for the last round of the Mock Trial season

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A Trial of Success

Stephanie Xu, Cynthia Le

Stephanie Xu, Cynthia Le

Stephanie Xu, Cynthia Le

Stephanie Xu, News Editor

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Time slowly passes. The prosecution and defense patiently wait for the judge to make the final verdict.

 

 

One minute passes.

 

 

Two minute passes.

 

 

Three ‒

 

 

All rise. The court is in session.

 

 

The verdict: The defendant Reagan Klein is guilty of criminal threat and swatting charges.

 

 

Gavel down.

 

 

Case closed and a victory for Beckman High School’s prosecution team.

 

 

***

 

 

Beckman’s Mock Trial team is a team of students who compete in mock trial competitions about a specific case in the county. Each year, the team receives a new case; this year’s case was about Reagan Klein, a college student who was accused of sending criminal threats to Sawyer Smith and swatting, which is staging a hostage situation.

 

 

After receiving the case, the team is divided into two sides, a prosecution and defense, each with their own attorneys and witnesses. The members have to memorize their lines and prepare their court cases for the trial, ensuring that they know the case packet like the back of their hand. Practicing every Mondays and Wednesdays in advisor Mr. Veitch’s room, they have to go over everything from case theories, character development, case law, and public speaking techniques. The defense and prosecution also hold mini mock trials to get a feel of the atmosphere.

 

 

“We have practices twice a week for two hours each, but it definitely ends up being a lot more because [we] have to make a whole argument and write 20 pages of material for the whole team,” says co-captain Aditya “Adi” Agarwal.

 

 

Although they spend hours analyzing their case packets, practice sessions are also times for the team to bond. The mock trial team is one big, happy family, so the atmosphere is always lively. After all, they do call their senior team captain, Nicholas Garcia, “Papa Nic” due to his fatherly personality toward the team.

 

 

After months of practicing and transforming into their character roles, November is here.

 

 

Competition season.

 

 

The first round was against University High School, one of their toughest competitors. Going against the champions for their first round was nerve-wracking, but the team was not daunted. Even though they had lost by 14 points, the team was happy that they were close to beating the champions.

 

 

“Competing against Uni[versity] was challenging, but I wasn’t too disappointed by our loss,” says Bryan Choi. “They are strong competitors, so we were able to gain valuable experience.”

 

 

0 wins, 1 loss. Not the best start for the season, but their defeat was only more motivation to continue striving for success in future rounds.

 

 

The second round was against Tarbut v’Torah High School. This round was their first victory, winning by seven points.

 

 

Now, Beckman had 1 win, 1 loss.

 

 

The third round was against the Orange County School of Arts, another strong competitor as they were the semi-finalists of last year’s competition. They had lost but only by a small margin of seven points.

 

 

1 win, 2 losses.

 

 

The final round was on November 29th, 2018 at the Orange County Superior Court against Brea Olinda High School. For this round, Beckman was the prosecution side.

 

 

At 5:15 p.m., the prosecution team wait for the court hearing to begin. The last round of the season ‒ time to wrap the season up with all their effort and hopefully make it into eliminations round despite the slim chances.

 

 

The pretrial begins.

 

 

The defense motions for their defendant, Reagan Klein’s, criminal threat charges to be dropped. The judge rejects the motion, and the trial begins.

 

 

Beckman starts first as the prosecution side. Junior Shivani Shah presents the opening statement, then the defense attorney presents their opening statement.

 

 

Time is called.

 

 

Now, the prosecutors, Garcia, junior Shivani Shah, and sophomore June Shin, have 14 minutes for the direct examination of their witnesses.

 

 

First up is Sawyer Smith, portrayed by freshman Christina Peng. Peng acts as a social media influencer who is allegedly threatened and catfished by the defendant Klein, her ex-friend. Since Smith had a casual demeanor, Peng incorporated her personality to suit her character.

 

 

“Peng had catch phrases like “#priorities!!” or “make sure to drop me a follow my social media account!!” which made everyone in the courtroom burst into laughter,” recalls Choi.

 

 

After Peng returns to her seat, officer Keegan Lopez, played by freshman Evan Josten, is called up as witness. He was the officer that arrested Klein after receiving an anonymous text to report to the swatting crime scene. Their next witness is Cameron Holmes, played by junior Agarwal, who was Klein’s friend and allegedly sent the anonymous text to Lopez. Agarwal testifies against Klein for allegedly using his phone to contact the police. The last witness is Dr. Dakota Cheung, played by junior Derrick Teshiba, who is a linguistic analyst that claimed the writing style of the anonymous text matched that of Klein’s writing.

 

 

Time is called.

 

 

The defense side proceeds with their direct examination.

 

 

Time is called.

 

 

Both sides have 10 minutes for their cross-examination of the opponent’s witnesses.

 

 

Time is called.

 

 

After the closing statements and closing rebuttals, the prosecution and defense team patiently wait for the judge to make the final verdict.

 

 

One minute passes.

 

 

Two minute passes.

 

 

Three ‒

 

 

All rise. The court is in session.

 

 

The verdict: The defendant Reagan Klein is guilty of criminal threat and swatting charges.

 

 

Gavel down.

 

 

Case closed, and a victory for Beckman High School’s prosecution team.

 

 

Even though they had won the case, they wouldn’t know who had won the round until the next day.

 

 

***

 

 

November 30, 2018. Noon.

 

 

Garcia receives a message from Mr. Veitch ‒ attached to the message is the file of the scores from the final round. He opens the file and checks the box on the top with the total points.

 

 

Beckman: 465. Brea Olinda: 356.

 

 

A 109-point difference.

 

 

They had beat Brea Olinda High School by 109 points.

 

 

Shaking with excitement, Garcia forwards the scores to their mock trial group chat. Immediately, a wave of texts flood the chat. Everyone is overjoyed by their overwhelming success at their final round. For the first time, Beckman was able to win a round by such a huge margin. Even though they were unable to make it to the elimination round, the 109-point win was a miracle for them.

 

 

“100 points is almost unheard of,” Agarwal remarks. “I feel bad for other team.”

 

 

“The other times we competed, we either won or lost by 20 points or less, so it was very exciting to have such a big win,” says Josten. “This was [only] my second “real” trial, so I was pretty excited.”

 

 

The victory would certainly be an everlasting memory for the Mock Trial team; it was the first time they had accomplished such feat, and it was the perfect way to end the season.

 

 

“For the 4 years I’ve been on Mock Trial, this is the first time we’ve won by over a 100 points which is a pretty big deal,” says Garcia. “It was an incredibly exhilarating experience and it was an amazing way for us to end the season and for me to end my high school career.”

 

 

Mr. Veitch, who was on paternity leave during the final round, was also extremely proud of the Mock Trial team when he heard the news.

 

 

“I knew that it was in them, I knew they were capable of doing that. The kids are all incredibly passionate and really care about the program,” exclaims Mr. Veitch. “It’s nice to see that reflected by such a huge win. It is reassuring that everyone else sees how good our team is because our team sometimes goes under the radar.”

 

 

With the final victory, the team would end with 2 wins and 2 losses. The numbers may not be reassuring, but the team was satisfied with the outcome season.

 

 

“Even though we couldn’t make it to elimination rounds, I’m glad we finished like this because it confirms that this team is much better than what the scores may suggest,” states Garcia.

 

 

***

 

 

All of their hard work, effort, and dedication paid off with their biggest success at the final round of the season. Beckman’s Mock Trial team had their ups and downs, but regardless, they will continue to grow and become stronger.

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