Case Closed: Gables Dominates District Mock Trial Competitions

Gables%27+mock+trial+team+prepares+its+case+files+and+evidence+for+their+presentations+as+they+wait+for+the+trial+to+start.

Sofia Cruz

Gables’ mock trial team prepares its case files and evidence for their presentations as they wait for the trial to start.

Sofia Cruz, Staff Writer

After months of nonstop practices, Gables’ mock trial team was finally able to compete in its district competitions. The rewards for their laborious preparations finally culminated in the high-quality performances they presented to the panel of judges. The competitions lasted two days, Feb. 20 and 21 and entailed a set of presentations for four rounds of trials against other teams.

It can safely be said that the intense dedication of the Cavaliers made their team exceptional in every single aspect of their cases. As a matter of fact, that same commitment led them to win their district competitions, meaning they will advance to Regionals.

On the first day of competitions, the mock trial team met up early in the morning at school, then took the Metro to the event. The competitions were held in the James L. Knight Center, a downtown Miami convention complex.

Once they arrived, they were alerted of what side they would be presenting for their first case: the prosecution or the defense. For their first round, Gables students were instructed to be the defense. They had a small amount of time to prepare all their case materials and get in some extra practice before the first round started at 9:30 A.M. Once the opposing team was ready and the judges entered, the trial began.

“I have been part of the Gables Mock Trial team since my sophomore year. Every year, we work hard and spend long hours practicing, and I have the opportunity to surround myself by people that are just as driven, confident, and hardworking as I want to be. I want to thank my law teacher, Mr. Garcia, for allowing me the chance to be part of this group and for being my mentor the past four years. I would not trade any of my experiences for the world,” senior Daniella Berrospi said.

During the performances, there were strict rules that had to be followed. Opening statements were presented first, then direct and cross-examinations followed by closing statements. Each round lasted for around two intense hours as each team battled to prove their superiority in the courtroom. Objections flew back and forth as the presiding justices either overruled or sustained them.

There were also strict time restrictions for each presentation, in which the bailiffs were designated to notify the teams if they approached their limit. Overall, Cavaliers did an outstanding job in their first round, blowing the prosecution out of the water and securing their first victory.

“This was my first year attending the Mock Trial competition, and it was so much more than I expected. After countless hours of work and preparation, we were ready to  be champions. Hearing our school be called as one of the semi-finalists was the most rewarding moment I have experienced since the initiation of high school. Not only did we gain a trophy for the wall, we also acquired a family, and I wouldn’t give this experience up for anything,” freshman Sofia Bronstein said.

Once the first set of legal proceedings concluded, the team went to lunch. Afterward, they reconvened for their second trial of the day. This time they would be facing a new team with inverted roles, now representing the state’s prosecution of the defendant. The same rules were applied and once again the talented team fought tooth and nail to make an good impression on the judges. The final scores revealed that Gables clutched up another win. After this, the first day of competitions was over and the Cavalier team went home.

The second day of competitions had little variation from the first in its structure; their first case was argued from the side of the defense. This third round was the most challenging one they participated in, with an incredibly talented team being their opposition and putting up a good match. By the end of the case, team members waited anxiously to hear the results. It seemed to be such a close round that the winner might have been either team. However, for the third time, Gables students triumphed with their scores and surpassed the opposition in allocated points.

The fourth and final round was a shoo-in from the start; Gables was the prosecution, but the defense hardly knew the rules of the competition. The opposing team only had two lawyers, when it was stipulated in the rules that all teams were required to have three, and the same lawyer delivered the opening and closing arguments, which was also prohibited by the regulations.

Though the opponents were eligible to be disqualified, the Cavalier team decided to allow them to compete, risking their own wins for the sake of good sportsmanship. They still continued their winning streak by defeating the defense and officially ending the events with an undefeated status.

“There is nothing more nerve-racking than being at the final ceremony after two days of trials and hard work next to thirty other schools who also worked hard and hoping to hear that your school’s name is announced as a finalist. But at the same time there is no better feeling than sitting in a room with thirty other schools and having your school be called out as a semi-finalist after all the effort and practice hours we put in,” sophomore Rocio Portal said.

At the end of day two, all teams moved to a large conference room where the top four winners would be announced. Usually, the undefeated teams advance to the next round, but if there are more than four it comes down to who gained the most points which is why it is so important to rack them up with perfection in presentations.

This year a total of seven teams had zero losses, meaning stiff competition for Gables. Nonetheless, they were announced as the third of the top four teams. Mr. Garcia, the team sponsor, and all the members were ecstatic. This was the first time in years that Gables had won in districts, so the announcement was received with tears of joy. The talented Cavaliers received a trophy and will be advancing to regionals in the near future. Miami Arts Studio, Barbara Goleman, and Hialeah Gardens were the other top high schools.

Mr. Garcia’s team was made up of seven girls. The three lawyers, seniors Daniella Berrospi, Lianet Ariz and Elizabeth Villar did outstandingly in their final year. There were also three witnesses who portrayed certain characters, memorized their affidavits, and gave sharp responses. The bailiff timed everything and handled documents. Everyone played their part well and the team worked together perfectly.

After months of bi-weekly practices, this district’s success was well-deserved. Since November, the team would meet after school on Wednesdays and early morning Saturdays for about four hours to rehearse. The time and effort put in proved the team’s resoluteness to do well and came to fruition with this win. In two weeks these Cavaliers will return for their Regional competition, which also serves as semi-finals for states. They will assuredly represent Gables well as they already have and will continue practicing in the meantime.