STE Mock Trial Team Wins Regionals

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STE Mock Trial Team Wins Regionals

Miranda Graves

Miranda Graves

Miranda Graves

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“A boom, a crash, a death,” these were the words that resounded through one of the many courtrooms in the Harris County Criminal Law Court. The dead silence of the room helped create an atmosphere of intensity yet also a sense of calmness. However, it had not been an experienced lawyer who had touched the audience with this commanding tone of voice, but merely a group of high school students competing in a Regional Mock Trial tournament.

In 2015 the STE Mock Trial team came in 2nd place in the same tournament. Now they were determined to reach state.

As was shown by their hard work and their impressive dress rehearsal, morale was high, and though there were a few improvements that could have been made, they went into the courthouse prepared and hopeful. As was said by Amartya Sinha ‘18,“Going in I was pretty confident we could pull it off, but when I saw how the other teams were I grew a little less confident.”

Facing off against St. Agnes in the first round as the defendant, the team completely demolished their opponents with assertive arguments and painfully difficult questions for their rivals. Besides a couple of gender mix ups (the opposing school had girls playing male roles) and maybe even a misplaced lawyer joke, the STE defense breezed through their first obstacle and took a stand against Clements High, a public school with many more students than St. Thomas Episcopal. 160129_MockTrialRegionals_MGraves__0439Web3

This round was probably the most difficult round to watch. With team members speaking too fast and not loud enough, it seemed for a second that they might not earn a new plaque to put in Mr. Ramsay’s room. But luckily, in the end they pulled through with a better performance than they started with and perhaps even a few logical errors from Clements themselves. Still, the result would not have been the same without an emotional yet persuasive conclusion from Marilia Sampaio, one of the assistant lawyers. Though they had clearly won that verbal battle, the coaches did not offer any leeway in terms of criticism, lecturing them about keeping things organized and improving their oratory skills.

After taking a short break for lunch, the judge entered the room with the score sheets. “Quiet,” said the lady, “I am now going to announce the regional mock trial finalists!” All the contestants held their breaths. “I was nervous for the results since it was my last year being here and I wanted to at least win one time,” commented Oliver Wang ‘16 as he clasped his hands together. “ The finalists are Team F, St. Thomas Episcopal, with 270 points and St. Agnes with 267 points!” He sighed in relief. They had made it to the final round.

160130_MockTrialRegionals_MGraves__0098Web4However, their worries were not over. As the two teams called a coin toss in the air for which was to play the plaintiff and the defendant, St. Agnes won the toss and called for St. Thomas to play the plaintiff, the same side the team had played in the second round. This put a little more pressure on them considering that their last performance in the second was hardly anything to brag about.

Upon leaving the eating area, the coaches gave a few words of encouragement, and after a quick prayer, they entered the courthouse. As the courtroom quieted down, the teams began to introduce themselves. After a strong opening statement from STE, it looked like there was hope that they could win. Their speeches were more fluent, and it seemed as if some outside force had imbued a sense of persuasiveness in each syllable adding to its already smooth dialogue. Nonetheless, during the witness interrogations, both sides seemed to have pretty solid evidence to back up their theories, yet no one team had assertively defeated the other.

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Finally, it had come time for the closing statement. As Mr. Ramsay and Mrs. Garrett gazed expectantly at the speaker, Marilia gave a heartrending speech reaching out to the audience and jury alike. And to add the icing on the cake she rebutted the opposing teams in a resolute fashion further cementing the mock trial team’s arguments. “I was unsure on who was going to win, but when I heard the conclusion, I had complete confidence that we had won,” exclaimed Mr. Ramsay.

After the trial, the judges revealed which people had been selected to be best lawyers and best witnesses in the tournament. As everyone waited impatiently for the results, the head judge announced,” For best advocate we have Amartya Sinha and in 2nd place Maitreyi Nair! And for the witnesses, the best witness goes to Edward Thorn!” Surprised by these awards, Amartya explains,“I actually didn’t think I was gonna get this award, but you know I guess there was just something the judges liked about me.”

And finally for the words everyone had been waiting for, who had won the finals? “And the runner-ups in the Houston Regional Mock Trial Competition are…. St. Agnes!” The whole STE team cheered as they realized that they were the first team from St. Thomas Episcopal in about decade to win a spot at state.

Later that day, as they settled down to eat a bite of dinner, the headmaster himself, Mr. Cusack, came to congratulate them on this monumental event in STE history. “A boom, a crash, a death,” this is what the tiny, private school from Meyerland left in its wake.

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