by RAKSHA DONDAPATI Staff Writer
The mock trial team will be participating in a regional competition on January 29 and 30 in the Middlesex County Courthouse against Bishop Ahr and Noor-ul-Iman.
The competition consists of a full court trial. This year’s case is a civil case in which a woman, Carmen Capella, is suing a company, Petzicon Products, for the death of her West Highland white terrier, Sally. The death was supposedly caused by the company’s flea treatment.
The competition begins with opening statements to the jury by both the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff’s attorneys then examine their witnesses. Next, the defendant’s attorneys examine the same witnesses. Following that, the defendant’s attorneys examine their witnesses, and the plaintiff’s attorneys follow. Finally, the defense and the plaintiff give their closing arguments to the jury.
Each day, half of the students participate. One day, Monroe plays the defendant with Bishop Ahr acting as the plaintiff, and the other day Monroe plays the defendant against Noor-il-Iman.
In addition to the student attorneys and witnesses, there are back-ups that serve as the jury. These members of the team act as the jury for competitions between two schools that are not their own. They cannot be part of the jury in competitions involving their school; in this case, Monroe Township High School.
“I’m really happy to be a jury member since this is my first year and I want to stay back and watch before actively participating with a big role in the competition,” said freshman Harshini Malli.
A judge scores each team according to individual and team performance, and decides on the winner, regardless of the decision of the jury. Scores for each part of the trial go from one to 10, with 10 being the highest.
If the team moves on from the regional competition, they will be competing in the state competition on January 31. The rain date is February 4. Each member of the team will keep their role in the competition.
The attorneys that will be a part of the civil case are as follows: the plaintiff’s attorneys are senior Jamie Weiss and sophomore Ankita Satapathy and the defendant’s attorneys are senior Shreyas Hirday and junior Raman Nimmala.
The witnesses for the case will also be portrayed by members of the team. Capella will be played by senior Camille Rabe. Sally’s veterinarian, Alex Delani, will be played by junior Amber Kelly. Dog show experts Jamison St. Clair and Val Popinjay will be played by sophomores Michelle Barclay and Rachel Gentile, respectively. Pat O’Connell, the President and CEO of Petzicon Products, will be played by freshman Martin Hluchy. Sam Stone, the lead investigator for Petzicon Products, will be played by junior Kaitlyn Dutton.
The team meets every Monday to practice in preparation for the tournament. They also work at home.
“We have been writing our examinations and statements at home and the rehearsinf [sic] them in class,” said Nimmala. “Our mock trial team…[is] on the right path to be a successful team with a new plan to attack the competition.”
One big change to this year’s team is Mr. Giusippe Calella becoming the new teacher-coach for the team.
Mr. Calella said, “I want to share my legal experiences with students through the program hoping that it will generate some interest in a possible legal career….[The students] have worked very hard over the last few months, and I believe that their efforts will pay off.”
Students will be taken to the courthouse on a bus at 2:30 p.m. The competition will run until 8:30 p.m. on both days.