Mock Trial Battles Into Elimination Rounds

The Mock Trial team gets ready to compete at the Eastern District Court.  Photo Credit: Jennifer Yakubov

The Mock Trial team gets ready to compete at the Eastern District Court. Photo Credit: Jennifer Yakubov

By CAROLINE LOUIE

The Mock Trial team is off to a great start. Having won their first competition on March 5, they are now moving on to the single elimination rounds, which begin March 13.

According to www.nysba.org, the Mock Trial Tournament “focuses on the preparation and presentation of a hypothetical courtroom trial that involves critical issues that are important and interesting to young people.”

Each year the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) assigns a new court case to each group of high schoolers. This year’s case is “Harley Davison v. Gotham City of Housing Preservation and Development.” 

“The case is about a guy who applied for succession to a rent controlled apartment,” said Jennifer Yakubov ’20, the team’s captain. “The department of housing preservation and development denied him succession, and we’re trying to figure out if that was a fair ruling.”

“I love it [mock trial],” said Sezer Benoit-Savci ’20, a member of the team. “It’s very interesting, the whole process. I’m the plaintiff Harley Davison, and I’m asking for succession rights to my great aunt’s apartment. It’s not the most exciting case, but it’s just fun to be a part of and to watch.”

The team is working with attorney advisor Scott Henny and faculty advisor Mr. Eugene Resnick to prepare for the case.

“Scott has been extremely helpful,” said Mr. Resnick. “He helps the kids understand the different elements of a trial, how to make objections, how to respond to objections, how to be a good lawyer. We’ve had several run-throughs, and he’s made constructive criticism after them.”

So far, members of the team have proven to be passionate about the case and the team as a whole.  

“You have a fun time in the process,”  said Benoit-Savci. “Everyone is really fun, so it’s not a chore.”

Mr. Resnick said, “The team is doing great. They’re really enthusiastic, and they all support each other. Even when we have events that some kids aren’t a part of, they still come to support each other. Sometimes while we’re on the subway on the way to a competition, the kids will be talking about the fine points of a case. They’re really dedicated.”

Last year, the team did not gain enough points to advance past the opening round.

“I think we will definitely do a lot better than in previous years,” said Yakubov. “We have a very dedicated and talented team.”

Although it is a challenge for each member to feel confident during practices and competitions, Yakubov urges the team to remember that “as a team, there should be trust, and we have trust, which is most important.”

Mr. Resnick encourages students who enjoy public speaking, debating, and arguing to try out for Mock Trial.

“Kids in the club develop confidence and comfort with public speaking,” said Mr. Resnick. “Even if you’re not a lawyer, it develops lots of good skills that you can use in life.”

However, “it’s a lot of reading and research as well,” said Mr. Resnick. “There’s a whole book about the case that they [members] have to read through. It’s not easy.”

Yakubov said, “Mock Trial is one of the best kept secrets in Midwood. It’s unlike anything else we have.”