It is not often that small town schools are able to expand their extracurricular opportunities for students. As of late October of 2018, a group of students at Hettinger High School has had the opportunity to participate in another extracurricular activity: a mock trial. Aaron Roseland and Jon Kohler are the co-coaches of the mock trial team at Hettinger High School.
For the record
Students on the mock trial team are Carolyn Schultz, Alyssa Andress, Emily Shirek, Kelby Pemberton, Abbie Kludt, Mack Buckmier, Mason DeFoe, Ty Warbis, Kyle Burwick, and Zach Rickertson. The team is made up of five juniors and five seniors.
As of now, only a few schools in the state are competing in the mock trial competition. Each school competing gets the same binder with all the information they will need to reach their goal. When it comes time for the competition, schools will take their turns competing against each other. Before each trial session begins, the schools will meet, and a coin will be flipped to determine which school is on the defense side and which school is on the prosecution side.
When asked to explain what mock trial is, Aaron Roseland, stated, “Mock trial is a simulated trial experience where the students act as attorneys and witnesses to re-create what an example of what a trial is.”
Mr. Roseland explained that there would be four parts to the mock trial. Just as in a real-life trial, the student lawyers, both prosecution and defense, will present their opening statements to the judge and jury. Following the opening statements by both sides will be direct and cross-examination. To wrap up the mock trial, the student attorneys will give their closing statements.
“After each round of the mock trial, the competition judges which vary between teachers, lawyers, and sometimes even actual judges, will judge you,” said Roseland. “Based on criteria, each team, defense or prosecution, plaintiff or defendant will be judged on their execution of putting on the best mock trial.”
“Ultimately whether we win or lose at the end of the day is not the point,” stated Roseland when asked about his goals for himself and the students of mock trial. “The point is that the students grow and enhance themselves through this program.”
Currently, the students of the mock trial team meet for a few hours on Sundays to get their work and preparation in. Emily, Kelby, Mack, and Mason will have the bulk of the work because they are the attorneys for the team. Mr. Roseland said, “It’s going to take hard work, dedication, and long hours, but at the end, I expect those that participate will have a better appreciation for the law, of the trial process, and a better ability to think logically and clearly.”
The mock trial team will have their competition later this spring when they meet other schools in Bismarck to put on the mock trial.