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Teams Make a Good Case for Advancement

By PAMELA WILLIS/This Week Community News
A police officer shoots a man who points a toy bow and arrow at him -- was the officer justified in using deadly force?
That question kicked off the 2016 Ohio Mock Trial district competitions Jan. 29, during which Worthington Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington high school students argued as prosecutors or defense attorneys or served as witnesses, scoring high enough to advance to the Feb. 19 regional contests.
Team Cardinal and Team Six Angry Folks from Thomas Worthington competed against 15 other teams at Franklin County Municipal Court and were two of only nine teams to advance to the regionals.
"This is the second time in a row that two teams from Thomas have advanced to the regional competition," said Paul Nick, an attorney and the team's coach.
Nick said the Thomas Worthington teams won all four of their rounds in addition to receiving all eight possible individual awards for best attorney and witness.
"Both of our teams worked hard to develop a theme to tie together all of the witness testimony and demonstrate how the facts support each side of the case," he said. "In addition, the teams participated in several scrimmages and tournaments with other schools to help prepare for the district competition."
Team Cardinal includes Janelle D'Avignon, Jocelyn Decker, Edward Gao, Viraj Kumar and Stephanie Mertz.
KimAnn Brown, Sekou Conde, Ellen Guerra, Juliette Kokernot, Savitha Ravi and Bolin Zhao are members of Team Six Angry Folks.
Team captains Guerra and Mertz said preparation and team chemistry helped both teams advance.
"We had most of our materials memorized and that really helped us to seem more confident," Guerra said. "It's also easier to engage the judges and adapt to what happens in the trial when you don't have to depend on your notes."
Mertz said Team Cardinal has great team chemistry.
"We are all returning mock trial members who had so much fun doing it last year, so this year we really want to do well in the tournament," she said. "We are competitive people who want to do well and are willing to work hard to do what we need to do to win."
Worthington Kilbourne's Team Carpe Diem competed at the Marion County courthouse, winning both of its rounds and a best attorney award. It was one of four teams to advance to the regionals.
Members of the team are Amy Du, Beth Findell, Madeline Fox, Lucas Hershberger, Jacob Kravitz, Gannon Lynch, Bella Mitchell, Audrey Shih and Justine Shih.
Team coach Tom Novack, also an attorney, said the Carpe Diem team is a "young team with half of our students competing for the first time."
He said members worked hard to master legal concepts.
"As a mock trial competitor, you are exposed to trial advocacy techniques and legal concepts that law students are not fully exposed to until their second year of law school," he said. "Without the strong personal dedication and commitment of our students individually and as a team, we would not have advanced."
Team captain Hershberger said Carpe Diem members have "great communication and attitude."
"We were able to work together well and refine our work," he said. "We were also able to bring our own viewpoints on a subject and collaborate to get the best possible result. We have a strong sense of teamwork and are able to cheer each other and help each other in practice and competition."
He enjoys the academic challenge of the program and the competition between opposing attorneys and witnesses.
"Trying to outwit an opposing counsel requires a knowledge of law and being able to think on your feet," he said.
If the teams win both rounds at the regional contest, they would advance to the state final rounds, to be held March 10-12 in Columbus.
Local attorneys Eric Hershberger, Brett Kravitz and Eric Terhune were advisers for team Carpe Diem.
Legal adviser for the two Thomas teams is assistant public defender Maureen David.
The Ohio Mock Trial competitions are coordinated by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education.

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