Mock Trial 2019 

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Mullen’s mock-trial team is laying down the law.

Now in their fifth year, the 20-strong Mustangs are nearing the end of their best run. They have advanced through regionals and await this weekend’s state championships under the leadership of longtime Mullen teacher Tammy Christensen as well as a couple of attorneys who have been generous through time and guidance.

An exercise that seemed fairly foreign and unfamiliar not that long ago rapidly has developed into a local labor of love attracting attention.

“I didn’t know it existed,” said Christensen, a 22-year teacher at Mullen (Forensics Law and Advanced-Placement Government). “But I found out about it and thought we would be really great at it. I would do a mock trial as a sort of a final, but then I found out about it and thought it would work.”

It does.

What is mock trial? Basically, according to virtually every participant, “it’s a play about a trial.” Think “Law&Order” and some of any other police or lawyer show that has been on television. But the fun and competition are as real as the necessary theatrics.

Overseen by the Colorado Bar Association, prep participants, along with actual judges, lawyers and cases, get to experience most everything a trial involves. Defense to prosecution. Motions. Opening statements. Objections. Knowing the rules of evidence. Experts and so on ...

The appeal of self-expression for high-schoolers is alluring across the board.

“I don’t want to go into law, but it is interesting and fun to do,” sophomore Anna Seaman said. “You understand how the court works and get all of the pieces of the puzzle.”

For Seaman, mock trial requires and “develops public-speaking skills and you have to be quick on your feet.” For sophomore Michael Dudzic, it’s about “how to legally attack the case.” And for Elise Bialecki, another 10th-grader, the team is “a good group of people super-fun to spend time with.”

It attracts a range of Mullen students that operate under time limits and is challenged to improve, Christensen said, as “we have to schedule our practices around everything.”

The Mustangs are a team, she insists, that also has had camps during summer, including at Harvard and “we visited Boston College. We got some kids to see some amazing schools.”

It’s “nerve-racking,” she added, during a competition. Waiting 3 hours for teenagers to deal with judges and lawyers serving as jurors probably wouldn’t work any other way.

“You can’t believe how good they are,” Patricia Campbell said. The 26-year attorney had a daughter graduate in 2016 “and she volunteered me.” The elder Campbell, who said she ”loves it” and does it in her spare time, works with attorney Kate Christensen to prepare the Mustangs.

All have found it’s a two-way street, she said: “We have some things to learn as coaches and we had to learn it was a play about a trial.”

After beginning several weeks into the school year, the mock-trial team, which participated in multiple trials before qualifying for regionals, will have its first attempt competition, a statewide gathering, March 8-9 at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Golden.

Let the arguments begin. Wilson Bialecki can’t resist. According to the football-lacrosse senior, “today, the amount of citizens who are uneducated about our court systems is growing exponentially. Political efficacy is important in a society and must stem from knowledge about how our government operates. Without this knowledge, ignorance blinds those who fall victim and these are the people with the ability to vote.

“By learning a portion of how our government operates that gives me the tools to be a knowledgeable, educated future citizen.”

Your witness …   

 

Lasallian Education Logo

© 2015 Mullen High School. All rights reserved.