The Student News Site of Gabrielino High School

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Mock Trial serves justice even in online trials

By Brian Ly | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of the Mock Trial Team
TRIUMPHANT SMILES The Mock Trial team gathers in the library after winning the first round on Nov. 3.

   This Wednesday, the Gabrielino High School Mock Trial junior varsity team competed in the quarter-final round, following their victories in the preliminary rounds on Nov. 3 and Nov. 9. The varsity team only won one of their two preliminary rounds, making them ineligible to advance.

   Rounds started at 5:30 p.m and ended at 8 p.m, where students regrouped in the media center to celebrate and discuss their performance.

   “We were expecting that at least one of our teams would reach the quarter finals,” stated senior Gabriel Sundaramoorthy, a captain of the team. “Given our first rounds, we are doing pretty well, even in comparison to past years where there’s more experience on the team.”

  The teams argued the prosecution side of the case in the preliminary round on Nov. 9, performing in front of a professional judge, who delivered the verdict, and scorers, who determined whether they would advance to the next round. 

   The teams competed on defense in similar rounds on Nov. 3, where both the varsity and junior varsity teams won their respective rounds.

   While traditionally held at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, the competitions have been held online through Zoom due to COVID-19 safety concerns. In contrast to last year, where students competed from home, the teams competed in the media center together while spectators watched in a separate room on campus. 

   “I think the thing that keeps the team together is how great the community is,” said sophomore Aaron Situ, a varsity pretrial lawyer on the team. “In-person trials are definitely more impactful but we’re grateful that we’re able to compete as a team together.”

   To prepare for their rounds, students create an argument on both the prosecution and defense side of a fictional case provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. This year’s case, People v. Franks, involves two co-stars in the fictional play “Macbeth at Sea,” where the defendant is charged with robbery and battery.

   Playing roles commonly found in a trial, such as attorneys, witnesses, time clerks, and bailiffs, the team familiarizes themselves with legal practices and the procedures of a real criminal trial.

   Trial lawyers are expected to write opening and closing statements that present and finalize the team’s arguments, along with questioning witnesses from both sides to build a case. Direct examinations of witnesses build credibility and consistency to the argument, while cross examinations aim to create holes and doubt in the opposing argument.

   Unlike many other schools in the county, Gabrielino attorneys utilize a recurring theme throughout their argument to tie together the case they present in the competitions. 

   For prosecutors, students used themes such as “a role, a ring, a revenge,” and “the understudy went overboard.” For the defense, students used “the stage was set for Franks to fall.” 

   Witnesses build on the character they are meant to portray, creating quirks and embodying the character in a similar fashion to acting. 

   “The team bonding of Mock Trial is the best,” stated senior Aidan Scannell, who plays a witness. “But playing a character and being a witness has been really fun too.”

Donate to The Tongva Times

Your donation will support the student journalists of Gabrielino High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tongva Times

Activate Search
Mock Trial serves justice even in online trials