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No Objection: Natick High Mock Trial Team Learns Law

Natick High School's mock trial team returned for another year and left wanting to learn even more about the law and to get back into the courtroom better than ever.

The Natick High School mock trial team recently celebrated the end of a much-improved year with a team pizza party.

The team, which is one of about 160 high school mock trial teams in the state, was given evidence, affidavits and much more and then each of the 21 members played a role in prosecuting or defending the defendant. Natick twice played the prosecution this year (winning once), while winning their turn as the defense.

“Constantly we hear lawyers say they couldn’t have done what they did at their age,” NHS social studies teacher Cindy Crohan, one of the club’s advisors, said.

Many years ago Natick High School had a mock trial team, but the club had lost interest at one point. But last year Ali Rabideau, a senior this year, and another student expressed interest to Crohan and the team was born.

“They went around last year and talked about it,” senior Elise Garrity said. “ It sounded cool.”

Every year in Massachusetts high school mock trials, there is a different case. This year’s case involved an elderly woman who was found dead and a nephew is accused of poisoning her.

As part of the experience, real judges and lawyers take the time to be the judge at the case when it’s tried. Two of the three times this year Natick tried their case in a real courtroom at Marlborough District Court.

“I think people were wandering in confused wondering ‘why are there children lawyers?’” senior Marykate Cary said smiling.

Some of the things the students on the team said they learned by the time they got to the third and final trial of the year were not using their notes (they sometimes refer to the them on the table) as it’s easier to listen to the witness and also to choose a main theme of the case and stick with it. The students gave a lot of credit to Mike Lennon, a local attorney who helps coach them, with teaching them these skills.

“Mike has been so, so helpful,” Crohan said.

The students also said that the addition of social studies teacher Savannah Histen as another advisor helped a lot as well. Histen helped with some of the technology-related things so the team could keep up with the materials outside of meetings via the Internet.

The Natick High School mock trial team already seems enthusiastic about next year. Many of the students have a lot of funny stories and memories about this season, and while they won’t be returning next year, the seniors also seem excited for what next year might bring for the team.

“You never do worse than the last time,” they all said they learned from their mock trial experience.

Editor's Note: The Statewide High School Mock Trial Program is a program that is open to all schools and is administered by the Massachusetts Bar Association. For more information check out the Mock Trial Program website.

Peter Pappas March 15, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Nice to read that Natick reinstated their program. I coached high school mock trial for many years and firmly believe it hones a host of critical thinking skills. If teachers want to get started I've posted some mock trial resources and simplified rules of evidence online http://www.peterpappas.com/tag/mock-trial
Robert Rosen March 15, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Thanks for the tips, Peter. Hopefully even teachers and students who currently participate will find your advice useful.

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