OHS Mock Trial team ready for an exciting law filled season


Andres Contreras

OHS Mock Trial team members posing for picture before Tuesday practice.

Andres Contreras, Writer

OHS, along with many other schools nationwide, have an after school mock trial club. While in the club, students have the opportunity to dive into what a future in law would look like. Students get to study and present a fake case with a real life scenario. Throughout this process, they also practice how a real life case would work in a court.

Mock trial is not run through the MSHSL but MNbar, which means the organization is run by attorneys and the cases are also written by them. Students play the role of lawyers and witnesses, six for each team, the plaintiffs and the defense. Within the six students on each team there are three witnesses along with three lawyers. This means every lawyer gets one witness. While they compete, each witness gets one score that gets added up from one through ten. Whichever team receives the most points is declared the winner from that trial. Everyone in the state of Minnesota receives the same case. The case was released by the Minnesota Bar Association in Minneapolis, in which they worked for many months trying to figure out and put together a case for mock trial teams across the state. It comes down to how each school pieces the evidence together, and the way each school interprets it might be the way they win. 

Here at OHS there are two teams of 12. One varsity (Owatonna White) and the other junior varsity (Owatonna Blue). The advisor to Mock Trial is Ms. Laura Epland, an AP history teacher. Mock trial also has an attorney advisor, Mr. Joe Eaton. Ms.Epland said, “Mock trial is an organization where students come together and role play a possible real life court case, portraying lawyers and witnesses, advocating for both the plaintiffs or the prosecution and the defense.” The team competes against other schools, in some cases the plaintiff team will go against their defense team, and vice versa, in which they ‘mock’ a trial. The team gets one new case every year. The current case they are working on is a potential negligent malpractice medical case. 

The OHS teams spend months trying to figure out and work their case. The season for them started in November, but official competitions will take place in January. These competitions will include four rounds against other teams. If the team does well enough they will advance to the fifth round. If that round is won, they will go to state . Last year in the 2021-22, season Owatonna achieved  making it to state. Ms. Epland said, “We went to state for the first time in a long time last year, so this year we’re hoping to do the same.” During the competition the teams get to be in a real legal courtroom. An official judge gets to judge the case and make the final decision. 

We went to state for the first time in a long time last year, so this year we’re hoping to do the same

— Laura Epland

There are three Mock trial captains this season. They are Kinzie Carlson, Riddhi Bhakta and Lileigh Nguyen. Carlson is a senior, she has been involved in Mock Trial throughout her four years at OHS as a lawyer and a captain for two. Carlson said, “It is really fun. It’s a great way to build confidence in your speaking and argumentative skills. I really enjoy it. I’m even considering becoming a lawyer because of mock trial.” Paytyn Struss and Aubri Werk are two juniors at OHS who are involved in Mock Trial. They are both lawyers for Owatonna White. Werk said, “I hope to get better at arguments with people, and learn what it’s like to be in a real court case.” 

Anyone is free to join Mock Trial. It is open to all four grade levels. Mock trial is great if a student wants to improve their skills in public speaking, presentation skills, confidence in their speaking, critical thinking and teamwork. Practices are two times a week on Tuesday and Thursday. While at practice, members are actually playing the roles of the case. For this year somebody will play the role of the doctor who is getting sued and the athlete who is charging them. During practices Mr. Eaton, an attorney that works in town at Eaton law office, comes into practice to help with the case and answer questions students might have. For this season they are not accepting any new members, but to learn more about mock trial talk to one of their captains or see Ms. Epland in room E-306 to be on the team next year.