The Mock Trial team is shown at the NorCal Mock Trial Invitational, Jan. 11-12 at Menlo School in Atherton. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Scott)

Mock Trial team captain’s ‘best closing ever’ earns her MVP award in win over River City

The Mock Trial defense team defeated River City 449-386 on Feb. 6 at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse in round two of the county competition.

Team captain Héloïse Schep, a senior, attributed the win to strong pretrial and witness performances.

If the defense wins in pretrial, a piece of evidence is excluded from the record, according to Schep. Winning pretrial made it easier for Country Day to prove the defendant not guilty, she said, crediting freshman Samhita Kumar with a good pretrial performance.

“We got a lot of comments on our witness performance and general loudness,” Schep said. “You don’t really think about (loudness), but being loud and using your hands is a big part of Mock Trial because you want to fill the room. We did a good job with that.

“I was really happy with my closing,” Schep added.

Coach Rick Lewkowitz said it was “the best closing argument (Schep) has ever done.” Schep’s performance earned her the MVP award.

Other standouts, according to Lewkowitz, were Kumar and junior Sarina Rye. He said Kumar “argued her pretrial motion as well as most real attorneys could” and that Rye put on a “very impressive performance” as the defendant.

Lewkowitz said he was proud of the team’s poise and energy but wants less aggressive objections.

Schep agreed, saying the judges highlighted this as an area for improvement.

“A couple times, we fought objections too far,” she said.

While Schep said the team is younger and less experienced this year, it hasn’t been much of an issue because people are “really open to learning (and) criticism.”

According to sophomore defense attorney Sanjana Anand, the team has “bounced back (well)” after losing four seniors. The team has 10 new members.

Rye agreed with Anand.

“I think back to my freshman year when there were so few of us,” Rye said. “Now there’s so much talent, and people actually have choices between different roles and finding their strengths.

“Seeing freshmen learn and do well is super encouraging (too).”

The team’s next match is Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. The defense will compete against Del Campo at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse.

—By Ethan Monasa