By Helen Zeidman
Taylor Edsel has been accused of burning down a factory with first-degree arson, and her fate is in the hand of Red Lion Area Senior High School students. The Mock Trial team has the task of proving Edsel’s, the character made up by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, innocence or guilt in the round of competitions in January.
The Mock Trial team is a collection of students who have a burning desire to learn more about law, public speaking, and rhetoric. Competitions let students pursue those ambitions by acting out trials, such as this year’s criminal case involving the suspected arson that burned down a factory.
“I joined last year because I kind of want to be a lawyer,” sophomore Katelyn Taylor said. “The coaches are awesome and I enjoyed it a lot last year.”
With new faces on the team and a number of returning students, they are ready to tackle the challenging case that was presented on Nov. 4. The team – including freshman Zoe Watson, sophomore Katelyn Taylor, junior Philip Zeidman, and seniors Chaundy McKeever, Emily Zeidman and Jaclyn Golden – will have to act as the defendant, and then prosecution, for Taylor Edsel.
With the help of case materials and exhibits that reflect actual legal procedures, the team has to decide how to frame the facts to their purpose.
“You can’t ad lib or improvise. You have to stay with the script and make your side likeable,” Mrs. Mary Smith, one of the team’s advisers, said. “You have to be able to portray characters who are not good people in the best light.”
Like in a real court case, the team will act as attorneys and witnesses to support their side. The members have to be well-versed in legal jargon and actually know how to apply those terms in a real life situation. They have to emulate all aspects of professionalism in to do well in the competitions.
“We have to dress the part of walking into the courtroom as attorneys and witnesses,” the team’s other adviser, Mrs. Rebecca Yoder, said.
The Mock Trial competition can be beneficial for aspiring lawyers since the case is held in an actual courtroom with a real judge and a jury full of experienced attorneys who offer advice. The students get to learn from professionals and earn valuable experience.
“It is realistic,” Watson said. “I joined because I want to be a lawyer. It will look good on college applications and look good for my future career.”
In the past few years, the team has consistently won one competition, but lost the other. This year, the team hopes to win both first round competitions in order to advance. Two victories in the first round could bring the team to regional playoffs, and eventually, state championships.
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