MHS Mock Trial returns, sees success with scrimmages


Submitted by Lia Koski

MHS mock trial competes at the Lake County invitational on Feb. 25. MHS Prosecution won against Wheeling High School and MHS Defense against Whitney Young High School. “This year’s team is extremely hardworking and supportive of one another,” Said Mock Trial Coach Nicole Malham. “They have also shown a lot of flexibility when I have changed roles. In addition, they bring a ton of positive energy to practices and competitions. It has been a really fun and rewarding season so far.”

Kayla Baltazar, News-Features/Opinion Editor

  Court is now back in session! After a period of time where MHS didn’t have a Mock Trial team, social studies and AVID teacher, Nicole Malham, has returned to her position as the Mock Trial coach.

  “I coached Mock Trial at MHS from 2005-2011 and stopped when my son was born,” said Malham. “I loved coaching mock trial, but was unable to manage the time commitment with a small child at home and working full time. Last year Lia Koski, MHS sophomore, approached me and asked if I would be willing to coach the team again.”

  Mock Trial is a competitive club where students are given a court case by the Illinois State Bar Association, and are given different roles within a trial, such as a witness in the case or as an attorney. The students compete against other schools by going head to head in a simulation of an actual trial. 

  “Our team prepares for both sides of the case: prosecution and defense. Our team members perform the trial against another team during our competitions,” explained Malham. “For example, our prosecution would compete against another team’s defense. During the trial, team members are either a witness or an attorney. Witnesses are directed by their attorney and crossed by the opposing team. Attorneys may be responsible for directs, crosses, opening statements, and/or closing arguments. During the competitions the two teams are scored by attorney evaluators.”

  Despite everyone on the team being new to Mock Trial, the students have not let that get to them and continue to push to improve at scrimmages and competitions. Ella Novotney, freshman, notes that it took a little bit to get used to the way Mock Trial works. 

  “Some challenges that I have faced is getting a feel for this during our scrimmages, since I have not ever experienced this before. Once you get used to it, its a second nature,” Novotney said. “Personally, I feel that our scrimmages have gone very good. The first one was very rough since we had to get used to it, but other than that, we have been able to adjust and get used to the feeling of it.”

  Novotney is a directing attorney for the prosecution. During a trial, she works on trying to prove the defendant guilty of all charges. Novotney has stated she has to “work directly with a witness and help them with guiding through their story, to prove without an unreasonable doubt that he [the defendant] is guilty of all charges.”

  Conversely, Senior Rayna Carreathers, who is a captain,  is a defense attorney for Mock Trial.  She competes a direct and delivers the closing argument for the defense.

  “For me, getting used to the layout of the courtroom and how to deal with things like evidence has been challenging to get used to,” said Carreathers. “The scrimmages have been extremely helpful in getting used to how the trial must run. In addition, it’s allowing us to master our parts before state.”

  So far, Mock Trial has done scrimmages against Libertyville and St. Charles North, and Malham believes that they have been performing quite successfully. 

  “Mock Trial isn’t what I would call an easy club,” Malham notes. “It requires a lot of work from the team to analyze the case, write and memorize their roles, and perfect their performance.”

  After these scrimmages, they have noticed something that the team could improve on is “to strengthen our response to objections, work on rolling with the judge’s rulings, and perfect our incorporation of evidence into the trial,” according to Malham. 

  Ultimately, the students are preparing to take their case to the Mock Trial state competition in Springfield, IL later in the year on March 18 and March 19. The team hopes that with more feedback after each invitational or competition, they will be able to have a strong performance at state. 

  “We could always use more practices to perfect our case and State will be here before we know it,” said Malham. “But I’m confident our team will be well prepared for State and will represent MHS well.”