Don’t Mock It ‘Til You Try It: West Potomac’s Mock Trial Club


WP Wire Staff

The Mock Trial Club preps for its first major competition.

If you’re a “Law and Order” fanatic, an actor, or an “analytical pick-things-apart” kind of person, then the Mock Trial Club may be for you.

“It’s basically fake court,” says activity sponsor Shanna Daniel. “It appeals to a diverse group of students.”

West Potomac’s team is comprised of about 15 members. They compete with other teams across the region and state, all who receive the same court case to argue. Each school’s team builds the case for both the defense and the prosecution. At competitions, while one school’s defense matches up against another’s prosecution, their prosecution also matches up against the other’s defense. This allows judges, team members, and the audience watching to see both sides of the case.

“It’s an intensely exciting exercise,” says Daniel.

To win and move on to the next round, the team doesn’t necessarily have to “win” the case. The judges look at how well the teams did, advancing them based on their overall performance and appropriate use of evidence.

It teaches its members how to improve on their public speaking and persuasion ability. Mock Trial participants take on the persona of a lawyer or witness and have to stay in character throughout an unpredictable trial.

“I joined Mock Trial because I was eager to test both my public speaking skills and my ability to reason,” says senior Matt Rychlik.

This is the third year for the club at West Potomac. Daniel got the club started after helping out with her previous school’s club.

“I learned so much and I found such an enjoyment working one on one with students,” says Daniel.

This year, the team will be participating in two competitions. The first one will be held in January at the Fairfax County Judicial Center, with 11 members from West Potomac’s team competing.

The second is the state competition held in March 2014 in Williamsburg, VA, and only six members of the team will be allowed to compete. These students will be carefully selected based on experience and ability. The winning school at the state competition will advance to Nationals, Virginia.

“I hope we win the state round and get to compete at Nationals,” says Daniel. “That would be awesome!”

The Mock Trial Club meets after school on Mondays and Thursdays in Trailer 10.