Mock Trial team competes on large scale


Photo courtesy Sean Connolly

The Mock Trial team poses after their first trial which took place at the Bel Air Circuit Court. On Feb. 19, the Mock Trial team defeated Harford Tech to win the County Championship.

[Update 2/27]

On Feb. 19, the JC Mock Trial team beat Harford Tech by two points to win the county championship.

“Our kids are truly amazing to be able present their case in a court of law so competently as high school students.  I continue to be so proud of them,” Mock Trail team Moderator Sean Connolly said.

“We practiced every day and it totally paid off. We had exta questions that we came up with as a team that really cracked the other team under pressure” Stepanian said.

The team will now face the winner of the Baltimore Mock Trial competition at the Towson Circuit court on Mar. 12.


“She made one too many case-destroying mistakes. I knew it was my time to crack her. I fired shots at her and we both knew it was over.”

Junior Olivia Stepanian completely discredited her witness at a trial against Harford Tech and blew away the entire courtroom according to her coach, Sean Connolly.

After previously coaching a Mock Trial team at Towson Catholic High School, mathematics teacher Sean Connolly decided he wanted to bring it to JC.

“I brought up the idea of having a Mock Trial team to [Principal Madelyn] Ball who supported the idea,” Connolly said. Connolly, who was a lawyer for over seven years before becoming a teacher, saw the positive effects the Mock Trial team had on his students.

There are currently eight on the team, representing either the prosecution or the defense in competitions, which are held at the Bel Air Circuit Court and are presided over by sitting District and Circuit Court Judges.

“The best aspect of the team is that the positions change every competition,” sophomore John Holden said.

The team will now compete in the Baltimore County Champion at the Circuit Court in Towson, on Thursday, March 12 after defeating Calvert Hall by two points in their last trial.

Attorney volunteers from the community score each team. “The hardest part for me is having to sit in the courtroom quietly without jumping in,” Connolly said. So far, JC is ranked number four out of eight teams in Harford County.

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge announces the verdict and which team “won the trial” based on points earned. “I like how the the Judge and attorneys give both teams feedback on their performance because it helps our team see where we need to improve,” sophomore Grace Mottley said.

According to Connolly, a good attorney “needs to know his facts, needs to be well prepared, needs to know how to project confidence, and needs to know how to think on their feet. Our practices are focused in the fundamentals and building on our weaker areas each time.”

“It’s impressive that they spent a lot of time on the cases with everything else our students do on a daily basis,” Connolly said.

Practices are usually once a week on Mondays or Wednesdays. “I like to meet with team members after school on the other days if they have any questions,” Connolly said.

Practices consist of questioning of witnesses, discussion of trial and legal strategies, and reviewing previous trials. “Overall, we get stronger with each practice,” Connolly said. “Mock Trial is an excellent experience for students who have any interest in the law or becoming a lawyer someday.”

Correction: In a previous version of this story, it was stated that the Mock Trial team was ranked fourth out of eight in Harford County. On Feb. 19, the Mock Trial team defeated Harford Tech to win the county championship.

Hanna LeBuhn is Print Chief for The Patriot and