Lawyers? No. HHS students

The Mock Trial competition season commences.


Provided by C. Fuhrer

The Mock Trial team, dressed up in uniform suits, to compete.

By Samantha Webb

High school is where students start to find themselves, their dreams, and their aspirations. At Huntley High School, offering Mock Trial is one way that students are furthering their journey in finding a career. On Thursday, Feb. 3, the Mock Trial club had its first competition. 

There are no schools in Mchenry County that have a Mock Trial club, so our students travel far, in this case, just a zoom away. This year, the competition season rolled around quickly. With the students practicing almost 4 days a week, they were more than ready. They attended the NSBA Empire Invitational and competed against 2 other schools. Students argued the prosecution against one school and the defense against the other. 

“They have to analyze the case as a lawyer would, they learn the law, and they learn how to be a lawyer,” said Dr. Fuhrer, who facilitates Mock Trial.

Schools are given alias names to eliminate the risk of any bias; Huntley was Thor Odison in this case. Illinois presents the high schoolers with real criminal and civil cases. On Thursday, they were presented with a civil case about gross negligence. 

The prosecution was attempting to argue that Forensic Smartt camp was negligent toward a teenager who fell down a hill, resulting in him being a quadriplegic with a serious concussion. The defense, however, was arguing against negligence and for the fact that the teenager did not inform the camp of his Type 1 Diabetes got severely low blood sugar, and it resulted in him falling down the hill whilst leaving without informing a counselor. 

The competition tries to uphold the best portrayal of a court case, and they use different jurors and judges whilst switching from defense to prosecution. The team is expected to treat the zoom as if they are in a courtroom with a real case, such as how they talk to their opponents and the judge.

“Please ask for permission before sharing evidence or an objection,” said Judge Jesse G. Reyes during the first round. 

Students are assigned roles based on their experience and their strengths. Witnesses have to handle directs and crosses, which requires strength. Attorneys, however, facilitate openings, directs, crosses, and closings. 

At this competition, students were prepared and had to listen for places of objection and in some cases be quick-witted and answer. For example, opposing attorneys objected to the expertise of the witness and their assumption of what kind of job the teenager could get after recovering. 

“You stated the expertise was Emergency Medicine and not recovery,” said Ava Gehrke, an attorney from York Community High School.  

Mock Trial students work very hard to compete and the ability to learn about a future career makes the long hours worth the hustle. Students also receive incredible interaction and knowledge about leadership skills. They might be lawyers or might not be, but they are well on their way to being something great.