On February 14th, the Key West High School (KWHS) Mock Trial team made the high school proud by winning first place in their district competition, enhancing them to states on March 31st to April 3rd. Their state event will be virtual at KWHS due to COVID-19, disallowing travel to be an issue in their budget.
Introduced to KWHS three years ago, Mock Trial is a club that simulates real-world court trials. At the beginning of each school year, the team is given a case packet through the Florida High School Mock Trial Competition (FHSMTC), replicating criminal or civil Florida-related content.
Depending on the case they were given, either civil or criminal, Mock Trial is most of the time a team effort. This year the team attained a civil case, which consists of a plaintiff and a defense side in the trial. Each point of view contains three attorneys, three witnesses, and a timekeeper. “The goal of this club at its forefront is to win, but a lot of benefits come along with it,” explained Siddharth Singh, one of the co-captains of the team along with Catarina Dubyk-Cassidy and Arturo Torres. “[These include public speaking, advocacy, quick-thinking, and] team-building skills.”
Adding on to the benefits, your future does not have to contain law to gain knowledge from this club. “I have no interest in pursuing law, but Mock Trial has helped me with my history classes mainly by giving me a better understanding of how the government and laws work,” stated Dubyk-Cassidy. “It also helped me [in] my English classes, [ranging] from performing poems to my writing skills.”
Leading up to this grand moment, the Mock Trial team has been working vigorously all year-round under the leadership of Libby Isherwood, a public defender residing in Key West. Isherwood starts off the year strong by teaching the team her tips, tricks, rules, and wisdom. After she covers the basics, Isherwood then goes on to decode the packet received from FHSMTC. Once they have figured out their method of delivering the case, the team practices run-throughs of the trial before the actual competitions, making sure that everything they say is the idea of perfection.
Just like every task, no matter how challenging it can be, the prize is worth it in the end. “The reward of knowing what you’re doing during the competition outweighs any negative feeling that you may encounter,” said Singh. The amount of work the team has put into these competitions is phenomenal, but most importantly they’re ready to take on the challenge at the state level.