Seniors Gear Up for Mock Trial

Every year, seniors take on the roles of prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses, and defendants, and work together to prepare for the annual mock trial. It is a culmination of the year-long senior Humanities elective Law and Society.

“This project has been very difficult to prepare for, but that is also what makes it so interesting,” says Emily L-M. ‘21. “I’m interested in law, and the mock trial is one of the best introductions to it. We are applying all the terminology and everything we learned through the year.”

This year’s fictional case involves Tracy Whitney, an organizer of a group with strong views on statues and public monuments. At one of the protests, a protestor named Wesley Everett hits someone with a sledgehammer. Wesley is arrested, pleads guilty, and is awaiting sentencing. Although Tracy did not attend the protest where the incident occurred, the prosecution is charging her as an accessory to the assaults because she is the leader of the group.

“Mock trials are often based on historical events or cases of contemporary interest, which deepen the experience and offer additional educational benefits,” says Law and Society teacher Scott Davis. “For instance, this year’s trial is centered on the tension between free speech and incitement to violence.”

The groups have roughly 65 pages of facts and notes to digest and fully understand before engaging in the trial. For Brian T. ‘21, the legwork beforehand reflects what he learned earlier in the year from Northwest parent and attorney Rick Spoonemore, who attended the class as a guest speaker: Preparation is the most important thing in a trial.

“He emphasized the importance of doing research and reading subpoenas and documents so that when you go into a deposition or a courtroom, you are prepared,” says Brian. “It is all in the research: You know what each witness is going to say, and, if you don’t, then it is an issue.”

The mock trial is a challenging project because students must master the role and story of their own specific characters, such as witnesses or attorneys, and must work closely with the rest of their team to ensure that their side’s narrative is consistent.

“As the defendant, I have to work on my direct examination with our defense attorneys,” explains Emily, “We have to focus on our own individual work to do it well, but, at the same time, we have to focus on our work as a team and how it integrates together.”

The mock trial will happen in-person in the Black Box Theater, on June 2, with alumni parent (Madeline ‘13, Sam ‘16, and Claire ‘16) and King County Superior Court Judge John McHale presiding.