Objection, Your Honor!

Breanna de Vera, Staff Writer

After three grueling weeks of competition rounds, Irvington’s mock trial team surpassed last year’s performance, placing fifth in Alameda county. This year’s case is “People v. Awbrey,” in which Awbrey, played by junior Rachel Castellino, is charged on two counts: human trafficking and falsely imprisoning Lin Stark, an immigrant from the fictional land of Tanterra. Aspiring attorneys and judges met biweekly to practice arguing out the case, and to discuss the various aspects they would use in court. The team is split into two halves –prosecution and defense– and they alternate when going to competition rounds. Trial roles are further split into pre-trial attorneys, trial attorneys, and witnesses.

Pre-trial attorneys deal with questionably obtained evidence, arguing whether or not it can be used in court. Defense trial attorneys argue Awbrey’s innocence, prosecution argues Awbrey’s guilt, and witnesses provide further evidence during direct and cross examinations by acting out their roles. The verdict of each round does not affect the school’s competition score. Real attorneys sit in court and score teams based on preparation and performance, independent of the judge’s final decision.

The Superior Court of Oakland hosts these tournaments after-hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Two practice rounds, one for defense and one for prosecution were held on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, and scored competition rounds began on Feb. 7. Both the prosecution and defense teams performed admirably through the four rounds. Irvington’s last competition was on Feb. 16, in which Irvington prosecution went against Skyline High School’s defense team.

“I was the defendant, and in court I had to emphasize my emotions and make it seem like I was innocent by being dramatic at some points,” Castellino said. “But when I was being questioned by the other attorneys, it was hard at times to not trip myself up. They had good questions, and I had to be argumentative.”

After competition rounds, only the top four teams advance to semifinals. This year, Amador Valley, Moreau, Oakland Tech, and American moved on. Irvington had a 3-1 win to loss ratio, but they missed fourth place by 0.24%.  Despite this narrow margin, senior President Paul Tang is satisfied with Irvington’s fifth place ranking.

“Although we didn’t get all the way to semifinals, this performance has been the best so far,” Tang said. “I’m really happy with our improvement, and I hope future teams take it to a new level.”