As spring sports are underway and the weather begins to warm up, Briarcliff’s Mock Trial team wraps up another successful season. The BHS Mock Trial team, led by seniors Tong Li and Claudia Price, competes in the Westchester Mock Trial Tournament. When the team competes, they take on the role of either the prosecution or the defense.
Each year the New York State Bar Association creates a fake case for high school mock trial teams to use in the competitions. This year’s case was a criminal case about hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.” The defendant was a made up company, Penn Hydra Gas Inc., and was accused of contaminating the water supply of a western New York village.
Each school’s mock trial team is composed of both lawyers and witnesses. Claudia Price explains, “Our attorneys each do a direct examination of one of our witnesses and a cross examination of one of the other team’s witnesses. We also have to give opening and closing statements.” The team’s lawyers must spend time memorizing and preparing questions as well as their opening and closing statements, while witnesses are responsible for knowing the facts of their affidavit and direct examination questions.
The Mock Trial team this year participated in two trials. They won the trial in which they acted as the prosecution and lost by one point in the trial in which they acted as the defense.
Mock Trial is often associated with a large time commitment, but Tong Li assures that participation in Mock Trial is not overwhelming. This year, Tong expressed, the time commitment was not as much as it had been in the past. Sophomore Nick Beninati joined Mock Trial this year in order to see law implemented in a real life setting and was also motivated by advisor Mr. Michael Muranelli. Beninati reflects on his experience by noting that, “Mock Trial definitely got exciting once all the team members were into it.” Mr. Howard Code, Briarcliff village justice, also helps to assist the team throughout the season.
Team members considered this season a successful one, as they were able to win a trial as the prosecution as well as have a lot of fun along the way. If you are looking for an enjoyable way to spend your winter, hang out with Mr. Muranelli and practice being a lawyer, consider joining Mock Trial next season!