ORDER IN THE COURT
By Kaila Mellos
The Scripps Ranch High School Mock Trial team prepared all year and was convincing enough to get to the championship round of competition.
The 18-person team headed to the San Diego Central Courthouse to compete in the San Diego Mock Trial Championship round on Feb. 28.
“This is my 12th year doing it, and this is the most responsive, most engaged team I’ve ever seen because everyone, without exception, spent extra time and put in the effort, and we were so successful,” said Kristin Rayder, one of the attorney coaches for the team.
Starting at the beginning of each school year, students audition for a spot on the team with a case.
“Students will choose which of the three roles they want to audition for,” said SRHS prosecution attorney Shivanshi Sharma. “Based on that, Ms. Rayder and the co-presidents will put people in certain roles. Sometimes you don’t necessarily get the role you audition for but have the option of a challenging … The challenging is if you think that you can do a better job than somebody else on the team – you can challenge for their spot.”
Once the team is put together, they prepare with hours of practicing the case they were given at the beginning of the year by the San Diego Mock Trial committee.
“We get a case packet every year, which has all the information in it,” Sharma said. “This year, it was a battery causing serious bodily harm and robbery case, as well as a lesser included larceny charge. This was a cruise ship setting, and we argued that the defendant stole from the victim and, in the process, hurt her arm and broke it.”
Scrimmages took place throughout the year and the results helped rank each school, which leads to competitions.
“We scrimmaged five times this year against five different schools. We pick schools that are mostly pretty competitive with us,” Rayder said. “But then after, when the competition starts, there are four rounds, two for prosecution and two for defense.”
After the scrimmages, the Scripps Ranch High team was ranked in a high position.
“The first four rounds, we were the only undefeated school, and we were first,” Rayder said. “They have the top four teams compete in a semi-final round. We then won our semi-final round and competed against Westview in the championship round in the courthouse.”
With the championship round against Westview, Scripps Ranch High was ready for a battle to the finish.
“We were all feeling pretty good going into it, especially against Westview. We scrimmaged them early on, and it wasn’t pretty,” said Matthew Shultz, a prosecution witness for the team. “But also, a lot of us were feeling nervous because we know Westview is one of the more competitive top schools. I know I was very nervous. I was like sweating going into that courthouse.”
The Scripps Ranch Mock Trial team returned with second place at the championship and a second place
ranking overall, along with multiple student MVP awards for Shivanshi Sharma and Lea Nepomuceno and
an award for outstanding defense pretrial motion attorney award going to Fanna Seman.
Scripps Ranch High was the only undefeated school before taking second place in a close final round.
“Regardless of what happened, I’m very proud of this team,” Rayder said. “This is the furthest we’ve gone in five years.”
The team hopes that more students will want to audition and be part of the mock trial team after such an amazing year.
“A lot of people think that you have only to be interested in the law, but I feel like this is a club that helps with everything,” said Quinton Baldis, SRHS defense attorney. “It helps with your confidence, public speaking and presence. So overall, even if you’re not interested in going into the field of law, I think it’s a great club to join.”