The Mock Trial County Competition

The 2023 Mock Trial Team poses for a group photo.

Makenna Morris

The 2023 Mock Trial Team poses for a group photo.

Nikki Piedad, Staff Writer

From November to January, UHS Mock Trial competed in the annual Orange County Mock Trial Competition, with one of their two teams, University Team Blue, advancing to playoffs as one of the top 16 out of 38 high school teams from across Southern California. After going undefeated for six rounds of competition in the regular 2022-23 season, University Team Blue ended the season on Jan. 18, 2023, with a 6-1 win-loss record in a close semifinal trial against El Dorado High.

The Mock Trial students have dubbed this year’s season as a “rebuilding season” due to the arrival of many new faces following the departure of multiple senior members last year. Despite the adjustments needed to be made by such changes, University Team White scored a 3-1 record for their very first season, while University Team Blue had the honor of going undefeated for 22 trials in a row since the 2020-2021 season.

“The determination the team had . . . was some extraordinary stuff, and I know they’re all proud of where they got,” sophomore Nethum Sagara said.

Mock Trial, a simulation of the American court system, is a popular club at UHS where students practice public speaking, acting, research and reasoning on the spot. The team convenes for practices twice a week, and the club offers members a variety of positions to try out for, from defense attorneys to witnesses to prosecutors.

“We all work together under the unity of one trial for the next couple [of] months,” sophomore Ryan Shahbaba said. “There is the prosecution and defense team; although both teams are working to prove different things, our two teams help each other prepare for the competition, constantly bouncing ideas off each other and helping each other improve.”

The UHS team had won the OC competition for the past two years consecutively. This year, Orange County School of the Arts won the title and will be representing the region at the State competition.

“Amongst these teams, we have witnesses, attorneys and pretrial attorneys,” Shahbaba said. “The witnesses play characters in the trial and have to memorize facts from their witness testimony to prepare for trial.”

As a lay witness himself, Shahbaba works closely with student attorneys to play a convincing role of a witness in the trial. He originally joined Mock Trial after participating in Model United Nations during his freshman year, a club similarly involved in public speaking which many other mock trial team members are also a part of.

“Mock Trial is a family, to put it simply,” Shahbaba said. “From the first day, I was on the team, I could immediately tell that I was [going to] be very close with my teammates.”

The impression of many team members is that although the mock trial is competitive and academic, being able to share funny moments as a team is just as important a part of the club.

“Mock trial has become a pretty huge part of my life, and being able to compete together with all of my friends has been incredible,” sophomore Toby Forster said. “I’m really grateful for the time I get to spend with everyone, and that’s definitely the best part.”