Students create mock trial team

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

Igniting interest in the United States judicial system, the Contra Costa College Mock Trial Club aims to bring everyday law into perspective in a welcoming environment of critical and logical thinking.

Beginning Friday, the newly formed club will provide a chance for students of all majors to improve their skills of public speaking, communication, strategy and analytics through competitive imitation court trials.

“(The) mock trial (experience) brought the world of law into my perspective, showing how law affects each and every one of us in our daily lives,” founder and club President Gabriella Hernandez said. “I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn the basics of how the law works.”

Each Friday in the GE-305 at 5 p.m., the club will prepare for competition with lawyers who guide them on the best ways to use the law while suggesting techniques to create a logical series of events.

The simulation, like an actual trial, will use argumentation, witness statements and evidence as members of the club work together to interpret the case in the form of an argument.

“Mock Trial (Club) has its own supportive community of coaches, lawyers, judges, and professors that are committed to helping you succeed and learn,” Hernandez said. “There is also the opportunity to meet mentors who have connections in the law field who can be helpful for future recommendations and networking.”

Hernandez, who first began participating in mock trials at El Cerrito High School, said initially she didn’t realize how influential it would turn out to be.

“I didn’t know it would be as advantageous as it turned out to be for my life,” she said.

There are currently four officers, seven members and two advisers in the Mock Trial Club at CCC.

“We have two lawyers who are committed to coming to help get our argumentation up for the actual competition,” Hernandez said. “We will be in competition with other schools in the same organization to get a verdict — guilty or not guilty.”

Although the Mock Trial Club will not be competing this semester due to fact it was just organized, the efforts of its members will go toward recruiting more club members.

The next competition, set for February or March of 2019, is sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association and will include other colleges that are a part of the California community college system, including Moorpark College, Rio Hondo College and San Joaquin Delta College.

Faculty adviser Steven McCarty-Snead said he first became aware of the opportunity after being asked about it by Hernandez.

“I chose to volunteer with the club because I think that it has the potential to enhance student success while providing more law-related opportunities to a diverse group of students.”

McCarty-Snead said that the Mock Trial Club is poised to become a prominent part of the pre-law opportunities at CCC.

“Contra Costa College possesses a relatively robust pre-law atmosphere,” he said. “For example, it is one of few community colleges to offer a pre-law studies certificate, which was first created by legendary professor Dr. Rick Ramos.”

The club is a student organization and CCC is one of a very few number of community colleges in the nation to be participating in mock trial, McCarty-Snead said.

“In the process of preparing for such competitions, as well as participating in them and evaluating performance afterward, students will enhance their understanding of the legal system and the various law-related occupations available to them.”

Business major Lindsey Thepmany said the campus needs the Mock Trial Club because it is like a sport.

“As odd as it sounds, it’s true,” she said. “It’s a mental sport in which students have the opportunity to showcase their analytical abilities against others who have the same enthusiasm for mock trial.”

Thepmany, like Hernandez, had her first taste of mock trial back in high school after it was recommended to her by her law academy teacher.

“I went to the first meeting and I was hooked,” she said. “You get all of the benefits that come with mock trial, which include understanding the significance and power of teamwork, preparation and public speaking,” Thepmany said. “In mock trial you also form bonds with others who have the same interests as you.”

The club is still looking for more volunteer attorneys, as well as members.

In order to compete in the mock trial, the club must have a team consisting of at least six students. Their goal is 25 members to field multiple teams.

Hernandez said, “With everything going on in today’s world, we see that our country is not yet how we want it. We are the next generation that will change laws that construct our lives. So this club gives us that head start into how our government works.”

For more information regarding the Mock Trial Club contract Gabriella Hernandez at [email protected]