CHS Mock Trial Team Competes at County Championship


Photo credits to Mr. Becker

The CHS Mock Trial team made school history when they competed at the county level earlier this year. The team, composed of a prosecution team and a defense team, competed against Moorestown at the Mount Holly Courthouse.

Leading up to the county championship, the Pirates were 3-1 with wins against Moorestown, Northern Burlington, and Lenape. Although the team did not win the county championship against Bordentown, it is the farthest the team has gone in over a decade, according to Mr. Robert Becker, one of the co-advisors of the club. 

Becker, along with fellow history teacher, Mrs. Kayla Patel, oversees the team of 15 members. The team is split up into two different sides, the defense and the plaintiff. Both the defense and plaintiff teams have two attorneys and three witnesses each. 

“Each school is given a case book from the state, and then our job is to build a defense side of the case and either plaintiff or prosecution side of the case,” Patel said. 

The state provides a different case each year, and this year was a civil case. There are two sides to every case. 

“It’s a negligence case surrounding an influencer and a challenge video that results in the death of a teenager,” Patel said. “One side is blaming the influencer and the consumption of the energy drinks that they were challenged to drink. The other side is trying to argue that it was an accident and due to a heart condition that the teenager had.”

Junior JP Hebert is the lead witness for the plaintiff. 

“I play a character named Dylan Salerno and my job is to basically forward the case with the attorneys and basically I have the main argument,” Hebert said. 

Team members who are not assigned a given role help with research and are available as understudies if needed.

“Sometimes we just have people that are like researchers who don’t ever want to be up on the witness stand because they don’t like the attention or they don’t feel comfortable, but they still want to work on the case,” Becker said. 

Competitions take place in the courtrooms of the Mount Holly Courthouse, which makes the experience feel more authentic. 

“The thrill comes in the actual competition and when we compete we go to the Mount Holly courthouse. We compete in an actual courthouse and courtroom with lawyers who act as the judges,” Becker said. 

Competitions, of which there are four, typically last two hours. The case takes about an hour and a half, and the decisions take about 30 minutes. 

“So the attorneys sit where actual attorneys sit in the courthouse. The witnesses sit where actual witnesses sit in the courthouse, and then the attorneys from the county come in and volunteer their time to be judges. So it feels like a real trial,” Patel said. “Each side goes through their witnesses. They have direct examinations and cross examinations after opening statements and then the other side goes and then they end the trial with closing statements.”

Although Mock Trial is considered a club, it has the competitive nature that one would find in sports. 

“…It’s really a competitive team because we do compete like any other sport,” Becker said. “It’s almost like e-sports.” 

Mock Trial is open to all students. Hebert said he joined the team during his sophomore year to try something new. After being a witness during last year’s trial, Hebert said he enjoyed it and looks forward to having a bigger role on the team. 

“It’s fun. You get to meet new friends,” Hebert said. “It really just builds your ability to talk… I have no ambitions to go into law, but I still really love mock trial because it just boosts your ability to present an argument and talk with people around.”