By JANE HAGEN
This year, UHS’s Mock Trial Blue team made it to the county finals for the first time in the school’s history, but the team lost to Saddleback Christian Academy’s (SCA) Scarlet team by 18 points.Two trials were played, and the Blue Team’s defense lost the first trial 938-953 and the prosecution lost the second trial 855-858.
SCA and UHS were the last two teams to compete for representation of Orange County at the state competition.
Each year, the team consists of a defense team and a prosecution team for the same hypothetical case. At the finals on Saturday, UHS defense team went up against SCA’s prosecution team for the first trial, and UHS prosecution team went up against SCA’s defense team for the second.
Two of the UHS prosecution team’s original members, however, could not participate in the second trial due to a conflict of time with their ACT tests, and, as a result, two substitutes had to compete in their place. Those absent were Emaan Hariri (Sr.), a prosecution attorney, and Arni Daroy (Sr.), a witness. Jamiee Hocker (Jr.) competed in Hariri’s place, while Libby Sun (Sr.) competed in Daroy’s place. Both Sun and Hocker typically only compete as attorneys for the defense team. Despite this setback, the UHS team still did well, and the substitutes did not make a significant difference in the outcome of the trial.
The UHS team members that received exceptionally high marks from the judges were Pre-trial attorneys Matthew Lee (Sr.) and Aurnov Chattopadhyay (Jr.), attorney Tristan Malhotra (Sr.), expert witness Peter Thomas (Jr.) and attorney Hocker.
To make it to the finals the UHS team beat El Dorado High School (EDHS), Northwood, Sage Hill, Santa Margarita, Cypress, JSerra and SCA’s Crimson team. Beating the EDHS team was significant as for the past two years, EDHS has beat UHS in playoffs. SCA has won county finals four years in a row.
One of the UHS team’s attorney coaches, Jason Caruso, reacted to the result of the trial. “Saddleback really has their stuff together, and they are an incredible mock trial team. They do all the right things, so I don’t feel like we were robbed today, but I feel like we didn’t exactly hand it to them,” Caruso said.
Although UHS’s team lost, an attorney on the panel of judges said, “Whatever team goes on to the championship rounds in the state competition, Orange County will be superbly represented.”
Another attorney on the panel of judges, Robert Jameson, said, “Early on, I advocated that the Orange County competition deserved two representatives in the state competition. When teams get to the state competition there will be small countries that will just get wiped out.”
Malhotra, president of UHS’s Mock Trial team, said, “We dealt with a lot of adversity at the beginning of the season, losing two of our Team A attorneys, but we banded together and made history. It was a difficult season for me especially, taking on the closing argument for both prosecution and defense, but beating my personal rival, El Dorado and advancing to the county finals made it all worth the effort.”