Mock Trial Team Reaches for the Top
Shantavia Thomas, Contributing Writer
February 21, 2013
Filed under Features
While most college students spend their Saturday mornings sleeping in, St. John’s Mock Trial Team is up bright and early. This group spends its Saturday mornings analyzing witness statements, watching competition videos and decoding legal documents.
This past Saturday, members spent part of the day watching video from their Regional Tournament that was hosted by Roger Williams University earlier this month. This year, the team placed 3 out of the 21 teams.
The team is made up of 11 students that include, 4 seniors, 3 juniors, 1 sophomore and 3 freshmen. Most of the students have been on the team for more than one year.
Ellen Gong, a senior Government and English double major, has been on the team for her entire college career. Gong is co-captain of the team and hopes to go to law school some time after graduation.
Gong said that being apart of the Mock Trial Team is demanding. She stressed that they practice and study hard for their competitions, spending many hours reading legal documents, going over evidence and reviewing exhibits.
“It is time consuming,” Gong said. “But, it’s worth it.”
The team at St. John’s is often compared to Harvard and Princeton, but Gong said she wants to prove that being from an Ivy League school doesn’t make you any better than a school like St. John’s. She takes great pride in St. John’s and the Mock Trial Team she is a part of. As a graduating senior, Gong hopes the newcomers can carry on the school’s legacy.
This year, the team has been invited to the opening round of the Championship Series (ORCS) that will be held on May 22. They will be going up against Ivy League schools and are welcoming the challenge.
“There are constant challenges, “ Gong said. “But, we want to prove that we are sharper than the other teams.”
Gong’s co-caption, senior Peter Ozelius agreed.
“There is nothing like the feeling of reminding an Ivy Leaguer that they’re not as good as they think they are,” he said.
Gong explains that Mock Trial is all about strategy.
“How well can you argue the law,” Gong said. “And who argued the facts better.”
With skilled long-time members such as Gong and Ozelius graduating this May, the team is going to need four new members that will rise to the occasion.
“They have to just jump in,” Gong said. “We let them know they still have to pay attention and take notes during the practices. Even though they probably won’t speak.”
Junior and second-year member, Genieva Hylton, insists that despite the pressure and time commitment Mock Trial team is enjoyable.
“It is a lot of fun,” she said.
One of the coaches, Professor Holt, often shares funny stories of bus rides to competitions.
“Other schools are afraid when St. John’s is in the competition,” Holts said.
Gong describes mock trial as being more than a team, but also a family.
“We have to be as close as we are to critique each other as harshly as we do,” she said. “You never underestimate Red Storm.”