During an emotional fifth round on Feb. 27, the red team (prosecution) beat the black team (defense).
The red team defeated the black team 341-328, a win that coach Wayne Strumpfer said was won due to better objections.
Black-team attorney Jaelan Trapp agreed that the victory was very close.
“It was far from an overwhelming victory, so it really came down to slight nuances,” Trapp said.
Strumpfer said the quarter-final round was great.
“(It) was very satisfying as a coach,” Strumpfer said. “When a winner was announced, both teams congratulated each other, and the parents were very supportive.”
Trapp said although he is proud that both teams made it this far, he wishes they could have progressed even further as a school.
Many parents, faculty and friends came out to support the teams.
Black-team witness sophomore Smita Sikaria said the teams entered the courthouse about 15 minutes early.
“As soon as the first scoring judge came in, the team went quiet,” Sikaria said. “I saw every student just shut their mouth and sit up straight.”
At the beginning of each round, each team introduces the attorneys, witnesses, bailiff, clerk and coaches.
Strumpfer said it was weird at first because each team had the same coaches.
“We tried to figure out how to introduce ourselves without it sounding funny,” Strumpfer said.
So they decided that Trapp would say “May the coaches for both teams introduce themselves?”
Strumpfer said he was surprised the team members approached it like a regular Mock Trial round.
“Both teams really stepped up and performed well,” Strumpfer said. “At the end, I did not know who won.”
Sikaria said she expected some people to get psyched out because they were facing people from the same school, but they didn’t.
Black-team junior bailiff Shriya Nadgauda said everyone stayed really formal.
“We tried to keep it as professional as possible,” Nadgauda said. “It was so hard since the people we were going against were so familiar.”
Senior attorney and black-team captain Emma Brown said this round was fun because everyone had the chance to see each other compete.
“Everyone was so good compared to last year, which I was really happy about,” Brown said.
Although Brown said she found it to be a fun experience, she also said a downside of having two teams was not being able to see the red team compete before this round.
Red-team junior attorney Zane Jakobs said the round was more tense than usual, but not as bad as the fourth round against Rio Americano High School.
Strumpfer praised red-team freshman attorney Jack Christian for his improvement and command in the courtroom.
Brown also commended Christian.
“I heard that he was good for a freshman, but I had no idea he was that good,” Brown said.
Strumpfer also praised senior attorney and red-team captain Emma Belliveau for being sharp and aggressive in her closing argument.
Following a suggestion from Strumpfer, Trapp added an allusion to “To Kill A Mockingbird” during his closing argument.
Trapp quoted Atticus Finch, saying “You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view.”
“It seemed to resonate with many of the scoring judges this round,” Trapp said.
This led the presiding judge to tell Trapp, “You had me at Atticus Finch.”
Strumpfer praised junior attorney John Hansen for his opening statement.
Brown said Hansen showed that he could quickly think on his feet, which she also said is extremely helpful for responding to objections.
Hansen said he tried to be more aggressive.
“It’s always great to get a lot of positive feedback on my performance, because during trial I feel like I’m screwing everything up, so it’s nice to know that it wasn’t actually that bad,” Hansen said.
After defeating the black team, the red team next faced Rio Americano High School, losing 400-425, even though they had triumphed over Rio only five days before.
They will face Kaleo Home School on Feb. 29 in a battle for third place.
Strumpfer said even though he thought the match could have gone either way, he also believes the semi-final scoring judges were biased toward Rio.
“Whether it’s because of Rio’s ‘reputation,’ Rio’s way of presenting the Mock Trial, or because they are a public school, I don’t know,” Strumpfer said.
Belliveau agreed that the loss was far from unexpected.
“Regardless of how well we do, it always happens that Elk Grove and Rio end up in the final together,” she said.
“The county and scorers are conditioned to reward (Rio and Elk Grove) for their style. They have always been known for being the best. And they don’t want to stray away from that tradition and give another school the opportunity of winning, even if they’re worthy.”
Strumpfer said the freshmen found their voices during round 6.
As for the seniors, Strumpfer said they showed why they deserve recognition for taking the program up another notch.
—By Ulises Barajas