Mock Trial’s competition season comes to an end

Team Marshall competed at the OCLRE Districts. Zayna Samoon won an Outstanding Witness award.

Team Marshall competed at the OCLRE Districts. Zayna Samoon won an Outstanding Witness award.

Grainne Crawmer, Staff Writer

The Solon High School mock trial teams competed in the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) district tournament Jan. 27, 2023, after preparing since October.

Led by SHS Mock Trial advisor Robert Rivera, teams Jackson and Marshall were taken to the districts. Team Jackson includes Sanjana Ghosh, Rebecca Vinseiro, Avantika Pai, Rumeysa Yilmaz, Mahita Somanchi, Trevor Kim and Selena Liao. Team Marshall includes Erik Li, Olivia Visani, Aparna Srikanth, Zayna Samoon, Sudhi Ramesh, Anoushka Doubey and Meena Chandrasekhran.

This year, Aparna Srikanth, who acts as an attorney on her team, said she prepared for the competition through a lot of personal studying and practicing.

“A lot of mock trial is individual preparation as well as your understanding of the case,” Srikanth said. “At least as an attorney, I have to have a really good understanding of the case and the rules of mock trial, and that’s a lot of individual study.”

While the teams had been putting in the effort and getting ready, this is only their second in-person tournament since before the pandemic. They have only competed in one other event this year, held at The Ohio State University (OSU) on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, only two weeks earlier.

Erik Li is currently an officer in Mock Trial—as the President of Witnesses, he assists students with the characterization and preparation of their witnesses. During virtual learning in the 2021–2022 school year, Mock Trial met and competed virtually. Li expressed that they didn’t enjoy the club online.

“Online mock trial is really bad,” Li said. “It’s really terrible because I was just in my room in my pajamas with a suit jacket on. When we did it in person for OSU, it was actually a lot of fun—you can’t replicate being in a courtroom.”

Being able to appear in person gave students the opportunity for a better time in the courtroom. However, with more fun comes more responsibility.

“I get very nervous because I want them to do well,” Rivera said. “Once they are at the courthouse and the trial begins, I’m not allowed to coach. I can’t give them comments during the trial, I can’t call a timeout, I can’t coach them up and I can’t yell from the sidelines, so I’m a nervous wreck.”

Both teams won one of their two trials, but neither advanced to regionals. However, even though both teams are done with districts, the Mock Trial competition season is not finished for Team Marshall and Jackson.

“Because OCLRE only lets every school take two teams, Mr. Rivera is coordinating with Orange [High School] for us to host [an invitational],” Li said.

This new invitational would give everyone a chance to perform, and students who already did so would be able to improve. However, just because they lost doesn’t mean that they didn’t perform well.

“Personally, I think I ate it up,” Li said. “I was making the judges laugh, and on my cross, I was eating it up… We did pretty good, it was the best we could have done.”

Despite the loss, Srikanth believes that mock trial is a good club.

“Mock trial is a really great club for people who are looking for friends and a community or [are] interested in law,” Srikanth said.

On the other hand, Rivera said he believes the club has other benefits besides the pre-law track.

“Mock trial is great because it’s not even if you want to be a lawyer—you don’t have to do mock trial to be a lawyer,” Rivera said. “Mock trial teaches you poise, it teaches you confidence.”