Mock Trial Team Posts Real Results at State

The Colorado Academy Mock Trial “A” Team completed an exciting season on the weekend of March 8-9 at the Colorado High School Mock Trial State Tournament. Held annually at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Golden, the competition brings together the 24 top teams in the state, all of whom have been working on an assigned case problem since November. The CA team advanced to the State Tournament by virtue of winning its regional tournament in Denver on February 9-10.

Over the course of two days, the 24 finalist teams argued the case of Julian Grimes vs. Quinn Dixon, a civil trial, to determine who was responsible for the initial onset of the long COVID suffered by the plaintiff. Written by the Colorado Bar Association High School Mock Trial Committee, each year’s case takes the form of a lengthy and detailed dossier, complete with the plaintiff’s claims and assertion of facts, jury instructions, statements of witnesses and experts, and even evidence exhibits. Across the state, approximately 1,500 students annually perform as attorneys or witnesses in a court case. Hundreds of attorneys, judges, teachers, and other community leaders volunteer their time to instruct students about the judicial system and the trial process.

Mock Trial teams are composed of 6-12 students who perform a case for the prosecution and/or defense. An actual Colorado judge or magistrate presides over the trial round while attorneys, paralegals, and community members adjudicate the student performances. No verdicts are given; rather, students are awarded points for their performances, which are scored based on predetermined criteria that reflect successful portrayals of attorneys and witnesses: knowledge and use of the Rules of Evidence, trial procedures, witness character portrayals, and the conviction of each side’s argument.

CA’s Mock Trial “A” Team had both a plaintiff and defendant side—with different students in each group of six. In the four rounds of competition, the CA team battled to a 3-1 record overall, winning 10 out of a possible 12 jurors’ votes in those rounds. Ultimately, CA lost to Forge Christian in a hard-fought fourth round. Their overall performance led to a fifth place finish in the final rankings.

Just as importantly as the final win-loss record, CA took home the prestigious Professionalism Award, given to the team that scores highest overall for the professionalism they exhibited during the rounds. This award takes into consideration all manner of behavior at the trial, including sportsmanship towards the other team, deference to the judge and jurors, behavior and accuracy of the time-keeper, and overall demeanor of the lawyers when questioning witnesses and making objections. Teams that behave in a “contentious or unprofessional manner” lose points, which could ultimately make the difference between winning or losing the round.

The following students were recognized for their individual accomplishments in the State Tournament:

  • Meg Stanitski (Grade 11)–6th best attorney overall (out of 124 attorneys); 3rd best defense attorney; 3rd best closing argument
  • Leah Blake (11)–9th best witness overall (out of 124); 2nd best portrayal of the character Quinn Dixon (the defendant in this case)
  • Grace Lohr (11)–tied for 10th best witness overall; 4th best portrayal of the character Julian Grimes (the plaintiff)
  • Reece Scyphers (10)–tied for 10th best witness overall; 3rd best portrayal of expert witness Dr. Campbell Green
  • Adam Marwan (10)–2nd best portrayal of the character Peyton Rhee

And, for the first time in CA history, one team member was selected to represent the state at the National High School Mock Trial Tournament in the category of courtroom reporting. Sophomore Annabelle Iten wrote a journalist’s view of one of the trials she watched and submitted it to the tournament coordinators. Her article was selected as the best among several that were written that day, and she has been invited to attend the national tournament in Wilmington, Del., on May 1-5, where she can once again report as a student journalist on the proceedings.  

Said CA’s Speech & Debate and Mock Trial Coordinator Dr. Jon Vogels, “I’m extremely proud of all our students for putting in all the hard work and dedication to Mock Trial this year. All of them learned and grew over these past ten weeks, culminating in an exciting weekend where they could be recognized for their efforts.”