Oakland Tech has been participating in the Alameda County Mock Trial competition for years now and every time they have executed a strong performance. Every year, attorneys Elizabeth Harrigan and Pam Boskin guide students who are interested in learning more about our state court procedures. Team members are split up into two teams: prosecution and defense. Students take on the roles of attorneys, witnesses, bailiffs, and clerks. They dedicate hours each week to memorizing the given case packet, developing their argument, and perfecting it.
This year, the trial revolved around an alleged robbery and assault. The offense occurred after a performance of the Shakespeare play, Macbeth. Defendant Jordan Franks was arrested on charges of assault and battery and grand thief after his co-star, Billie Scher, accused Franks of stealing his signet ring and breaking his arm. This is no ordinary ring, as it is claimed to be once owned by Shakespeare. As the trial proceeds, witnesses ranging from a jewelry expert to the ship’s security guard will be brought up to the stand and give their testimony to the judge and opposing counsel.
Unlike normal trials, there is no jury. Instead, the judge and two separate scorers give their unbiased opinion and score each member’s performance. At the end of the trial, the judge pronounces the verdict.
Oakland Tech’s prosecution team first went up against Granada High School and the trial was conducted over Zoom. Co-captain Emmett Grout gave a strong opening statement in order to prevent an exhibit from being admitted into the trial and attorney and fellow Co-captain Galvin Fickes not only executed excellent examinations of witnesses, both prosecution and defense, but she delivered a compelling closing argument. Tech’s fierce competition led to their victory as they finished just a few points ahead of Granada.
When the prosecution team went up against Oakland School for the Arts, although the opening statement convinced the judge to admit the exhibit they were arguing for, they lost the overall verdict and competition as a whole.
Since 2020, due to COVID-19, the annual Mock Trial competition has been held remotely. However, in the second round of competitions, the Oakland Tech Mock Trial Team was able to go in person and hold trial in the Alameda Courthouse in Downtown Oakland. When they arrived, hundreds of students from all across the Bay Area came wearing their pristine suits and even bearing briefcases.
On the final night, Tech’s prosecution team received worrisome news. Their expert witness tested positive for COVID-19, and they knew they needed to act quickly. Luckily, Fiona Mcgilly, the defense’s expert witness, stepped in to take on the role. She not only memorized her packet in less than 24 hours, but she performed a strong and convincing argument. In the end, when each team grants an opposing member a peer recognition of excellence, Mcgilly won.
Although Tech’s team lost this year’s competition, they fought together as a team the entire way through. They truly demonstrated their devotion to the trial by working hard and compiling compelling and impressive arguments, both of which shined brightly in court.
If you are interested in joining Mock Trial, the next rounds of practice will start in September of the next school year. Mock Trial is a great way to not only develop a stronger understanding of state trial procedures but also an excellent way to build your public speaking skills.