Mock Trial Teams Headed to State Tournament

Two of Colorado Academy’s three High School Mock Trial teams are headed to the State Tournament, set for March 9-10 in Greeley, Colorado.

Teams A and C won their Regional trials at the Denver City and County Building. While the “B” team ended its season after Regionals, it was honored with the Professionalism Award for the competition. CA students also took home a number of individual awards including April Schwartz, Avery Lin, and Lila Arnold earned special recognition as Best Witnesses. Sloane Murphy, Justin Ferrugia, and Alia Davis won awards as Best Attorneys.

Says faculty sponsor Luis Terrazas, “To give you the flavor of the competition, at the end of the first day of the two-day tournament our teams were 1-2-3 out of a field of 11. Our A Team took first place, winning all four trials––a rare accomplishment yet still an impressive repeat of last year, and…the B Team won the prized Professionalism Award. Each year this is given to the team that exhibits the highest standards of ethics, teamwork, respect, and sportsmanship.”

CA heads to Greeley as the defending State Champion from 2017, the school’s first such award since the program was started at CA in 2009. CA went on to compete last year at Nationals for the first time in school history.

Student performances are scored on criteria that outline several elements of performance as a witness or as a prosecution or defense attorney. Points are awarded for each student’s performance. No verdicts are given in mock trial. Performances are scored on knowledge and use of the Rules of Evidence, trial procedures, witness character portrayals, and the conviction of each side’s argument.

This year, the CA “team” included three additional members. Upper School Visual arts students attended the event to provide courtroom sketches. CA’s Gracie Buyers, Leilani Abeyta, and Ann Claire Lin were trying their hands at the depicting the judicial proceedings in art. Sketches of proceedings are often used by media outlets since cameras are not allowed in many courtrooms. The practice of documenting court proceedings in this way dates back to the late 1800s.

This year’s fictitious Mock Trial Case, The People v. Bailey Forsythe, is about Corey Forsythe, who fell into the Poudre River and was later found dead several miles downstream. Bailey Forsythe, who was married to Corey Forsythe, claims that the couple was arguing next to the river when Corey came at Bailey with a rock. Bailey claims that Corey accidentally fell in the river and drowned. The Coroner originally ruled the death an accident, but when Bailey Forsythe tried to collect on Corey’s insurance policy, the insurance company assigned an investigator who now claims that Corey’s death was a homicide. The District Attorney agrees with the insurance investigator and has charged Bailey Forsythe with First Degree Murder.

Since 1985, the Colorado Bar Association has sponsored the state’s High School Mock Trial Program. The CBA Litigation Section and the Colorado Bar Foundation fund the program annually. It is one of more than forty-five educational programs in Colorado and is one of the leading and most respected programs in the country.

More than 100 high school teams participate in Colorado’s mock trial program. Approximately 1,500 students perform as attorneys and/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 through this educational program.

At CA, volunteer attorneys, many of whom are CA parents, help train and coach the students as they prepare for tournaments. CA coaches include Mark Grueskin, Bill Carey, Bill Niles, Victoria Sharp, Maribeth Younger, Doug Beck, Andres Guevara, Peter Koclanes, and Michael MacPhail.