Mock Trial Team Places Third


After four weeks of competition, Miramonte finished third in the Contra Costa County Mock Trial competition by defeating Alhambra in the consolation final round Tuesday, March 1.

Mock trial is an extracurricular activity held outside of school that fuses the drama of theater, the eloquence and improvisation of debate, and the concepts of law in a moot court setting.

High school teams across California receive identical case packets in late September that detail pre-trial arguments, a fact pattern, witness testimonies, and exhibits, in addition to countless rules and stipulations specific to mock trial. Teams divide into defense and prosecution subunits which then compete against other schools’ opposing teams.

The team, headed by attorney coach Luke Ellis and teacher coach and former Miramonte teacher Jessica Bacchus, practices once or twice a week in the College and Career Center.

This season, mock trial participants were faced with a case concerning Jesse Woodson, a middle school student charged with cyberbullying and assault with a deadly weapon.

After beating Campolindo’s prosecution team on Feb. 22 in the quarter final, Miramonte earned a coveted spot in the semifinal against Northgate’s defense team. Scoring attorneys gave both teams identical scores, leaving the decision to the presiding judge who decided Northgate to be the victor.

“It was a bad way to lose,” said junior and expert witness Robbie Fluegge. “The biggest difference between any of the scores was two points out of 100. The winner was based on the judge’s subjective opinion.”

The Contra Costa County competition began Feb. 10 at the Martinez Court House. Miramonte’s defense team, led by senior attorneys Alyssa Sheets, Kayla Davidge, Rachel Hallet, and pre-trial attorney Laura Henry, opposed California High and suffered a loss by a narrow margin of five points.

Senior Shalini Majumdar shouldered the task of playing the defendant, Jesse Woodson, one of the most difficult roles in the case given the aggressive questioning by the prosecution.

“Shalini is really good at playing the good girl. She does a good job of being nice, courteous, and understandable,” said senior and prosecution attorney Robert Robinson.

Fluegge also aided the defense team in receiving all fives, the highest mark on the scoring attorneys’ scale, in his role as an expert witness.

Miramonte’s prosecution team, well equipped with experienced members including seniors Anastasia Kaiser, David Tse, and Robert Robinson, as well as junior Alec Bahramipour, met Acalanes in the courtroom Feb. 12.  

“We killed Acalanes,” said Robinson. Bahramipour received a perfect score in the most difficult prosecution position, the cross-examination of the defendant.

“We are the best team in the league at defending our objections,” said Robinson. “But, we need to work on calling objections and controlling the witnesses.”

Mock trial is a timed competition and it is a common strategy for teams to try to run each other’s clocks, making it imperative for attorneys to stick to a strict time regimen.

Miramonte sophomore Anna Drobney played Angel Sterling, the victim in the case.

“Anna makes a really believable middle school student. She makes the courtroom sympathize for her, but sometimes can get docked points for over-dramatizing,” said Robinson. Mock trial stipulations draw a fine line between acting (costumes and accents are not allowed) and developing a realistic courtroom character.

Preceding every trial, the team fine-tuned examinations and fueled up on Safeway mini muffins and string cheese. Sheets led the traditional “Who ride? We ride!” cheer, followed by Robinson’s offering to the Mock Trial Baba, a fictional deity who protects the courtroom. When the team has a particularly rough match ahead of them, Ellis stepped in to lead the team in a non-denominational mock trial psalm.