Ukiah High’s Mock Trial Team Preparing for State Competition After Winning County for a Third Year in a Row


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Recently, Ukiah High’s Mock Trial Club kept up a three-year-long tradition of excellence by winning the Mendocino County Mock Trial competition. Looking at the team of strong characters and intelligent students, they seem to have outgrown the team who had a notorious losing streak only a few years ago. With this new win in their county competition under their belt, the Mock Trial team will be moving on to their state competition to compete on an even bigger. 

John Cabaniss, Ukiah High Senior and Mock Trial President, described the Mock Trial competition: “We field two teams, (one prosecution and one defense) and spend months creating arguments based on a casebook filled with witness statements and evidence. When the time comes for competition our prosecution goes up against other defense teams and our defense goes against other prosecution teams.” 

Cabaniss attribute’s the team’s winning streak to positive changes in Mock Trial student leadership. He said, “All of the choices in the club are made by the club President who isn’t actually elected rather they are selected by the previous club President. This prevents popularity contests and leads to a more meritocratic system.” With so much pressure relying on the student leadership to make decisions, the club thrives and in the end wins their county championship, leading them to have a bigger opportunity at their state championship in a matter of weeks. 

Mock Trial Vice Presidents, Benjamin Coletti said, “Going to state means that we won for our county and are going to represent them in a state level competition, meaning the best team of every county competes to represent the state on the national level.” He added, “Going to state shows us that what we are doing is good for the team and our work pays off and might work in the long term.” 

The other Vice President of the club, Beatrix Holstine, said the team’s win is “an opportunity to improve together as a team and represent our region on a broader level.” 

Colletti said there is still prep needed to get the team ready for state finals: “we are polishing everyone’s performance and focusing on team members who need help to improve. Also we are reviewing thoroughly what themes worked and what didn’t throughout the Trial.” 

As the club gets ready though, they have many attorney coaches to help them along the way. 

Cabaniss said, “The four attorney coaches are all practicing attorneys in various fields of law. They all give us advice on real trials and what they look like. They are very important. They’re incredibly kind and helpful, hard but fair.” 

As the team nears their state competition, they are aiming for perfection in hopes of winning and going to nationals, but they are also reflecting back on how far they have come as a team. From a team who went nearly ten years without winning, this streak of passion and excellence is a hopeful spark for the present and future of the Mock Trial Club at Ukiah High. No matter if the club wins or loses, they are always filled with love for one another and passion in what they do.

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