The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

Mock Trial starts season strong, following last year’s winning streak

The mock trial team has 18 members, six from each of the three upper grades. Sophomores start as alternates, then advance to witness and attorney. (Photo permission granted by Marissa Boucher)

The typical extracurriculars high school students participate in are school sports teams, yearbook committees, debate clubs, part-time jobs, etc. However, another extracurricular that can help you build up your college resume, meet new people, and be encouraged to speak about your opinions is mock trial. Mock trials are essentially competitions where students are given debatable cases, and the objective is to have the best argument to support their claim.

“Mock trial is an activity where teams from around the state simulate one fictional court case, either criminal or civil, each year,” senior and mock trial team member Marissa Boucher said. “Members of our team act as attorneys, witnesses, or alternates depending on grade level. We compete in real courtrooms across Maryland and last year, we won the state championship at the State Supreme Court!”

The majority of high schools in the U.S. have a mock trial club. There are three levels of competition: local, state and national. In the regular season, public and private schools compete in Montgomery County, then move to playoffs. A victory in the region, leads to the final four teams going for the state final in Annapolis.

The RM mock trial team is a great opportunity and engaging way for students that are interested in having careers within the legal system to learn more about it, or just to have experience in real life scenarios.

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 According to Juris Education, mock trial lets “students develop persuasive argumentation skills, public speaking skills, teamwork abilities and self-confidence.” 

Boucher also believes in the value of joining mock trial. “My favorite thing about this team is how supportive it is. Most people, myself included, join as sophomores with very little knowledge of actual legal theory — because who would expect you to know that — and the older attorneys & witnesses have always been so eager to help teach and guide the younger members,” they said. “It’s become a really tight-knit community over the years and even though I’m graduating, I’m really excited to see how the team does in the future.”

Law and US Government teacher Jonathan Taylor is the supervisor for the mock trial team and has been with them for over 20 years. “The mock trial team is a varsity team, just like you know, all the sports teams in the school,” he said. 

 Teams usually consist of six to nine members, where three of those members act as attorneys and the other three act as witnesses. Additional members can act as a timekeeper. “We have a very competitive tryout every fall. This past October we probably had about 50 kids tryout for only about five spots, and so we have every year a group of 12 varsity members that participate in the activity,” Mr. Taylor said.

The teams are given a criminal or civil case several weeks in advance of the trial, where they can prepare for both sides of the case. “Every fall, the organization that oversees the activity, they write a case. This year’s case was a civil case, so the varsity kids argue that case all season including in the playoffs if they make it that far. Because this year was a civil case, we had six kids on our plaintiff team and six kids on our defense team,” Mr. Taylor said.

  The teams do not know if they will be acting as the prosecution or defense during the trial, until the coin toss. It is very important as a team to come prepared to present to the court, because if not there is a 50 percent chance they will get the side they were not ready for. 

If I had to describe this season in one word, I’d call it a rollercoaster.

— Marissa Boucher

In preparation for the season, a lot of hard work, time, and dedication goes into it. 

“It’s a very involved activity,” Mr. Taylor said. “There’s just a lot of pre-season preparation as the kids start pouring over the case and becoming familiar with the fact pattern and start crafting the presentations for all the roles they have to play, the opening statements, the closing arguments, their direct examinations of witnesses, the kids that play the witnesses, their cross-examinations of witnesses.”

There are many key factors in winning a mock trial case, like memorization, revising the order of your witnesses, brainstorming, and even confidence. “The biggest thing that our coach tells us when we’re preparing the case is to memorize, memorize, memorize — because it just comes off so much better in a trial when you’re not reading from a piece of paper all the time,” Boucher said.

The preparation does pay off. In 2023, the RM mock trial team had 11 straight executive wins and were Maryland state champions. 

A huge component of the team’s triumph last year was definitely their solid preparedness.  “Last year our attorneys went into the state championship with almost no notes at all and won,” Boucher said.

In this year’s season, the mock trials first match was a hard-fought loss against Whitman. The score was 131-133, however the team performed very well, and is working past their loss to perform stronger for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. 

“I think if I had to describe this season in one word, I’d call it a rollercoaster,” Boucher said. “We definitely had our ups and downs, but I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish this year.”

If you are interested in a career in the courtroom, want to advance your professionalism and presentation skills, or just love to argue— then the RM mock trial tryouts that take place every September is an opportunity that you shouldn’t miss.


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