MT. VERNON — Members of the newly resurrected mock trial team at Mt. Vernon Township High School took part in a special practice session Thursday afternoon to prepare for their first state tournament this weekend in Champaign.
The session took place in Courtroom A at the Jefferson County Courthouse and involved a practice match against the mock trial team from Salem Community High School.
MVTHS team member Kelsie Mullen, a senior, said the mock trial program has given her a valuable learning experience that will serve her well as she pursues a career in law.
“I’ve learned a lot about how to use the courtroom and how to ask questions and different objections and stuff that I had no idea about,” Mullen said. “I am going to college next year for pre-law so this is helping me a lot.”
The MVTHS team consists of seven members, including two seniors and five juniors. The school’s mock trial program was re-launched this school year after having been inactive for at least seven years.
“It’s challenging, but we’re all learning a lot. You can tell that,” said MVTHS senior and team member Chyna Rivera. “You’ve got to put a lot of time into it, but it’s really rewarding so far.”
Thursday’s practice session was divided into two segments. For the first segment, the MVTHS team portrayed the prosecution and the Salem team played the defense. Then, during the second segment, the teams switched sides.
Team members portrayed each of the trial participants, including the attorneys, defendant, victim and witnesses.
After each mock trial performance, the two teams were critiqued by Judge David Overstreet and local attorneys Steve Hanagan, Paige Strawn and Scott Quinn.
The teams Thursday argued a fictional civil case inspired by the real-life 1938 CBS radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.” It will be the same case used by the teams this weekend while competing in the state tournament.