YMCA of the Triangle

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Inside Mock Trial: The Case, the Preparation and the Legal Battle

by: Austin Greene

Every bill group is different in what issues they present. However, in the case of Mock Trial, various teams are working together, trying to make both a case for the prosecution and the defense. This year, the case is particularly interesting, striking a chord with activists and wild “Hamilton” fans.

This year’s case is on the play “Burr.” “Burr,” a spin-off of “Hamilton” was about to be shown to the world on opening night. But alas, tragedy struck! In a dress rehearsal, Blake Brando (the actor playing “Hamilton”) shot Louise Choanike (the actor playing Burr; this is not a canon event)! There was supposed to be a blank in the gun, but there was a real bullet, and after Choanike was pronounced dead on the scene, Brando was charged with first-degree murder.

Mock Trial teams (normally consisting of six people) have to argue this case as both the prosecution and defense, making it more difficult to be overly passionate about one side; in just an hour or so, they’ll be arguing for the opposition. However, every group has to argue for three rounds, so a bill group will be arguing twice as often as the other.

To prepare for Mock Trial, groups begin working on the case in the fall. They have to scan through pages of documents, evidence, and witnesses. Additionally, they must create directing statements, opening statements, cross-examination questions, understand people’s positions on the events of the case and so much more. Fortunately for these groups, the YMCA provides each team with a legal coach that helps them prepare for both sides of the trial once they arrive at conference.

Once a group reaches trial, they will have to convince a judge that their side of the case is correct. There’s no jury to present to, and ultimately, the judge doesn’t rule in favor of one side; they merely rate both sides to see who had the most compelling argument. The two best teams will duke it out in an All-Stars round, in which they will find out which team had the higher rating from the judge. It’s a dramatic environment with twists and turns, but many individuals couldn’t see themselves doing anything else.

Sophomore Nikki Gupta has both legislative and judicial experience and embraced her judicial role. “In Mock Trial, you’re definitely on your feet,” Gupta said.

Mock Trial is a fan favorite amongst YAG participants with the program continuing to grow and include even more exciting cases.

“I love Mock Trial, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else at YAG,” Tyler Artinger, a junior defense attorney said.