Stealing, savagery and Shakespeare. During the 2022-2023 season, Country Day’s Mock Trial team is arguing a case revolving around these three concepts mixed with jealousy and revenge.
This year’s team captains are seniors Samhita Kumar and Jacob Chand and junior Grace Zhao. Mock Trial’s coaches are Rick Lewkowitz and attorney Hayley Graves.
During Mock Trial events, students compete in teams taking on different responsibilities in a real court case.
Attorneys, lawyers, witnesses, bailiffs, clerks and timekeepers compete. Through participation, students experience a firsthand look at what it is like to be in court, Zhao said.
This season the Mock Trial team is working on the case People v. Franks.
The case concerns two actors, Billie Scher and Jordan Franks, who were aboard a cruise ship, Heart of the Ocean.
The victim, Scher, had a valuable ring that previously belonged to Shakespeare stolen from their room.
The prosecution argues that Franks, the rival of the victim, stole the ring and injured Scher’s arm in the process.
The defense argues for Franks’ innocence, declaring that Franks either didn’t steal the ring, or if they did, the ring isn’t worth as much as it’s said to be. The defense also claims that Franks didn’t hurt Scher.
There is a lot of practice involved in trial preparation, which begins with studying the case packet, said case-in-chief attorney and senior, Shakhzoda Khodjakhonova.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry in terms of knowing information. You have to know the case inside out in order to properly prepare,” Khodjakhonova said.
The team benefits from a surge in new talent this year. There are 26 students total, 12 of which are new to mock trial.
“We have some real talent coming back and, you know, we hope that it will take us to a county championship, and at the very least, hopefully, improve everybody’s speaking skills,” Lewkowitz said.
Captain Zhao is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“I’d love to see our team make it as far as we can. I’d love to see us get to state finals,” Zhao said.
Mock Trial’s first practice scrimmage of the year was Oct. 29.
“In my opinion, it went great. Everybody was very polished for this early in the season, especially freshman Anika Nadgauda, a new attorney this year,” Zhao said.
The Mock Trial team members are looking forward to their very first overnight scrimmage since the pandemic on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8.
The team was invited to the Bay Area Bash, a new scoring tournament. Unlike most scrimmages, there will be judges, scores and awards.
“It’s going to be a really fun team-bonding experience, and we’ll have great competition there, too,” Zhao said.
Country Day will be going up against seven other teams: Lynbrook High School, Hillsdale High School, Tamalpais High School, School of the Arts, Carmel High School, Centennial High School and Trinity Pacific High School.
Country Day, Centennial High School and Lynbrook High School are the only schools out of the eight teams who have not won a state trial championship or been the runner-up.
“The competition is extremely fierce. That’s going to hopefully be really good for us,” Lewkowitz said.
“I’m just real proud of the students,” Lewkowitz said. “They have been working hard and improving.”
— By Eesha Dhawan