Mock Trial triumphs at Mercer County

Rahul Bhandaru, Staff Photographer

The 12 members of the PDS Mock Trial team have been enjoying great success recently.

“For those who don’t know, Mock Trial is a competition that forces kids to grapple with a fictional scenario and develop a case for both prosecution and defense,” explained Christian Rhodes, Upper School history teacher and one of the faculty advisors to the Mock Trial team. Mock Trial tournaments consist of many competitions in which one school’s defense is randomly selected to compete against another school’s prosecution. After the first two preliminary rounds, the win-loss record for each school is calculated, and the top four schools advance. At the end of the entire tournament the win to loss ratio is once again calculated to select a winner.

Although the tournaments are only a few hours long, the team spends months preparing for competition. “It’s a long process. We start by reading all the case material and breaking people into the prosecution and defense teams, and then they have to start to think through what are the charges, where are their strengths and where are their weaknesses,” said Mr. Rhodes.

“To me [Mock Trial is] a great way to stretch how you think because it’s weird to be given a script and then have to completely rework it, but it’s a lot of fun,” said junior Alex Neumann.

In the weeks leading up to a competition the team meets often. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into [Mock Trial]. We have practice every day for about two hours Monday through Wednesday, sometimes Monday through Thursday,” said senior Malavika Rajagopal.

During the recent Mercer County Mock Trial Tournament the team’s hard work paid off. After defeating PHS, Stuart, and Hightstown in earlier rounds, PDS was overall victorious, beating Marshall in the finals.

“It was a great competition, everyone performed at a really high level, our witnesses and our attorneys. It was clear that they put in a lot of work into trying to wrap their minds around the case. I think our kids worked hard and so they were able to respond effectively,” said Mr. Rhodes.

“This year has really been a good year for the Mock Trial team because, especially for this tournament, everyone on the team has already been on the Mock Trial team before, so everyone is experienced. And in our first round we beat PHS, and from then it went really well,” Neumann added. Additionally, senior Devika Kumar brought home Best Attorney at the competition. The three attorney coaches for the team,  Kathy Flicker, Mike Rosenberg, and Scott Rosenberg ’04, helped prepare her for success at the tournament.

Although the team did not triumph at the recent regional tournament, they have much to celebrate this season.

“This year I think we had a really incredible team, and we worked really hard, and when we went into the tournament we were pretty familiar with the actual laws,” said Rajagopal. When asked what made the team so successful this year, Mr. Rhodes said, “I think it’s a combination of things. There are some really talented kids, smart, good public speakers and all that. But on top of it they are really working to understand not only the facts but the rules of the evidence. So it’s a combination of talent and effort.”

As only four of the 12 team members are seniors, the team has much to look forward to next year with the return of eight experienced members.