Mock Trial 2021-2022: A Sweet Sixteen Victory

The 2021-2022 HMHS Mock Trial team with Senator John F. Keenan at the Massachusetts State House.

Today, many people grow up learning about the morals and values of life through their parents and teachers at school. They are able to learn about government and the rights and wrongs of certain situations in the world. The judicial system and courts in all the states are an important part of this as they help determine whether people are considered guilty or not for different actions that they may or may not have been involved in. Similar to real courts, Holbrook Middle-High School also has their very own Mock Trial club which gives the feel of a real case and courtroom.
MassBar’s Mock Trial program allows high school students in the state of Massachusetts to test their skills as lawyers and witnesses in a simulated courtroom competition, where they learn about the American judicial system and how it impacts their lives. Schools are divided into regions and compete in tournament brackets to get into the “Sweet Sixteen”, then the “Elite Eight”, then the “Final Four”, and finally the state championship. Many of the rules and guidelines have changed however due to COVID restrictions, and the people a part of the club this season had a lot to say about this year’s season as COVID had a massive impact on the experience that they encountered.
Mr. Charles Espie, Mock Trial advisor and coach at the school, is very passionate about the program that the MassBar association and school offers. According to him, “The best part of coaching a mock trial is seeing a student gain a sense of confidence by answering a tough question or conducting a well-articulated examination. These small moments mean a lot to me because the skills learned can always be used later on in their careers and lives.” Mr. Espie has been the coach since 2017 and he explains how each year presents the team with new challenges, this year being doing the tournament remotely. He adds, “This year I expect the team to learn to use the remote format, work together to best present the case, and have fun in the process. Of course, I would like for our team to win our region and advance in the playoffs, but none of that will happen unless we put in the time and effort.”
Johann Rodriguez-Viera, sophomore at HMHS, talks about his experience in his first season of Mock Trial by saying, “I have enjoyed Mock Trial a lot and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from Mr. Espie and my fellow teammates. I feel that we’ve formed a really strong team and I look forward to continuing in Mock Trial with the new skills I’ve learned this past season.” Furthermore, when asked what skills he is looking to improve upon, Johann said he looks to get better with his confidence and build more experience.
Sara Sullivan, a junior at the school, also shares her experience with this year’s season. She says, “The season went pretty well for the team as a whole, and I personally had the opportunity to explore different roles within the team. It was a fun season for me and I enjoyed taking on the witness role in the later trials.” For the future, Sara thinks it will be very different because of the seniors that are going to be leaving the team, but she thinks everyone has learned about the processes in Mock Trial and the new members will help in next year’s season a lot. She thinks that the COVID guidelines this season however have definitely affected them heavily as the team had many technical issues with video and audio throughout their matches, but they adjusted and worked through them as the season progressed.
For senior Hovan Ngo, he has a lot to express about his last season on the Mock Trial team at Holbrook. He says, “Our season went extremely well this year given the circumstances. With our limited resources, we fought our way to place Sweet Sixteen in the Mass Bar tournament. I could not be happier with our results, especially considering how many new Mock Trialers there were this year.” Looking back at his time in the club, Hovan recognizes how the team has become a second family to him and all the great memories he‘s experienced. For the future years, he has no doubt that the team will be in good hands with the new students in Mock Trial and he couldn’t be more grateful to participate and bond with them before he graduates. He also acknowledges how COVID has affected their matches because of all them being virtual this season, which is upsetting to him because the environment of the trial plays a big role to him, but the team worked through it and didn’t let it affect their performances overall. He has also developed skills like communicating and analyzing evidence more effectively, which will stick with him for the rest of his life.
This year’s Mock Trial season was very successful for HMHS. Although the team was eliminated before they could progress to the Elite Eight, they were able to make it to the Sweet Sixteen and beat 16 other teams out of the 32 teams participating. We are proud of all the members’ hard work and dedication and we wish the senior members farewell and the current sophomores and juniors good luck for their next season in the fall! If you are interested in law and the judicial system and are in 10th-12th grade, reach out to Mr. Espie and consider joining the Mock Trial team!