First-time judges meant some harsh scoring at the latest Mock Trial competition, according to members of the red team.
The red team played prosecution while the black team played defense at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse on Feb. 17. (Read about the case and Round 1 results.)
Red Team (Defense)
The red team beat Casa Roble Fundamental High School, 309-267, receiving 53 percent of the points. However, most of the members thought they deserved a lot more.
Captain senior Emma Belliveau praised junior Zane Jakobs’s pretrial argument, calling it the best pretrial argument from Country Day in the four years she’s been on the team.
Consequently, she said, Jakobs deserved all 10’s, but instead he received two 8’s and two 6’s.
Co-attorney freshman Jack Christian said they also stepped up on their objections, but scores did not reflect their success.
“One of the scorers scored an overall of 25 points less than the other scorers,” Christian said. “They didn’t really know how to score examinations. (For example, Belliveau) got three 10’s on her closing except one judge gave her a 6.”
Another problem, team members said, was that the inexperienced judges didn’t take the trial seriously enough.
For example, when the closing argument begins, the prosecution goes before the defense. After both have finished, each team is supposed to get one minute for rebuttal in the same order.
However, in this case, Belliveau said, the judge announced that the debate was over before she had given the defense’s rebuttal. When Belliveau spoke up, the judge asked whether there was enough time.
Each team is given one minute, so the answer was yes.
Another problem occurred with the timekeepers, who track how much time someone has and tell people when to stop.
Students serve as the official timekeepers and are supposed to have a time discrepancy of 15 seconds.
Freshman timekeeper Joe Mo said the time discrepancy was 17 seconds, and the judge’s response was to continue.
What Mo really had to do was determine with the other timekeeper if their times were correct, but the judge said to continue.
Although there were some problems during round 2, Belliveau said the team has improved. During round 1, Belliveau said she thought they had to work on objections, but this time around they did fine.
“Objecting has always been one of my biggest weaknesses,” Belliveau said. “(During round one) I wasn’t the normal, competitive self that I am.”
Black Team (Prosecution)
The black team competed against Laguna Creek High School, winning 238-198.
Sophomore Smita Sikaria said witnesses did well this round.
She particularly praised junior Jaelan Trapp.
“(Trapp) controlled the lawyer even though it usually is the other way around,” Sikaria said. “(Trapp) would bend his answers.”
“You really just need knowledge of the witness testimony,” Trapp said. “You need to know every specific word and phrase. A good way to do this, I found, was to handwrite the testimony. It takes awhile, but it is worth it.”
Junior Shriya Nadgauda said the team needs to work on presentation and learn to respond directly during cross examinations and to object to the right things.
“A lot of times the witness will say something in direct that should be brought up in cross examination but isn’t,” Nadgauda said. “During direct, the defendant said something about not wanting to kill Officer Valdez. I should have brought up in cross that the defendant did kill Officer Valdez with a baseball bat.”
Nadgauda praised captain senior Emma Brown, who was chosen MVP by the other team.
“Her opening was great,” Nadgauda said. “She brought in our theme, was very persuasive and her argument was easy to follow. During the cross examination she had great control of the courtroom.”
Brown said she spent a lot of time preparing, so she was able to memorize all her questions for cross examination and direct examination.
“I had also practiced my opening, which made me more confident about it when I presented it.”
Coach Wayne Strumpfer said that the teams have to be more in the moment.
“A lot of Mock Trial is scripted, so when the attorneys can go off script and focus on the actual testimony and happenings of the trial, that’s when you score points against the best teams,” Strumpfer said.
“Both teams have that potential. They just need a little more confidence.”
Round 3 will be Monday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m at the courthouse.