Court is In Session

Conestoga’s new Mock Trial team readies for their first Trial, gains knowledge on the inside workings of the legal system.

Members+of+the+Conestoga+Mock+Trial+Team+%28L+to+R%29+Braden+Ruffner%2C+Jennifer+Sedlacek%2C+Lindee+Watson%2C+Jack+Welch%2C+Lucas+Michel+and+Ben+Welch+have+found+success+in+competitions+during+the+school%27s+first+year+hosting+the+program.+John+McConnell+%28not+pictured%29+has+joined+the+team+for+practices+and+competitions+via+Zoom+this+year.+

Members of the Conestoga Mock Trial Team (L to R) Braden Ruffner, Jennifer Sedlacek, Lindee Watson, Jack Welch, Lucas Michel and Ben Welch have found success in competitions during the school’s first year hosting the program. John McConnell (not pictured) has joined the team for practices and competitions via Zoom this year.

MURRAY, NEB.–This school year, Conestoga has introduced a new club in Mock Trial. The club provides students the opportunity to put themselves into the shoes of attorneys and witnesses, and get an understanding of how the legal system works. Competing in Mock Trial are John McConnell (So.), Jack Welch (So.), Lucas Michel (Jr.), Lindee Watson (Jr.), Braden Ruffner (Sr.), Jennifer Sedlacek (Sr.), and Ben Welch (Sr.). The team is coached by Judge Larry Welch, Mr. Hegge, and Mr. Thies.

When asked why the school decided to start Mock Trial, Coach Larry Welch explains that the scenario was just a case of perfect timing. “I was at a meeting with a person involved in Mock Trial and she asked me why our school didn’t have it, and whether we’d be interested in doing it. The timing of that came in conjunction with (Principal Rob) Geise coming on board, and so I raised the issue with him, and he thought it was a fantastic idea. He wanted to put it on the agenda of things we could possibly do and then from there it moved pretty fast. I thought it was such a great opportunity for the students here to get involved with this exercise. You’ll get such a better understanding of law and the application of law in the courtroom and the judicial branch of government.”

The students’ first case is a fictitious case that takes place in Goldenrod, Nebraska. The case is between high school students, Taylor Jennings and Chris Hall, who happen to be battling for valedictorian. Chris Hall is accused of being in possession of a controlled substance by Taylor Jennings, and it’s up to the Mock Trial team to figure out who is at fault.

For the last couple of weeks, the students have been learning about what the case would look like from the inside. The students have been divided into witnesses and attorneys, and have been practicing their statements and testimonies for the Trial in January.

Coach Larry Welch instructs mock trial participants during a practice held at Conestoga High School. (Lucas Michel)

Junior Lindee Watson, among others, says she is enjoying Mock Trial and looking forward to the real deal. “I have really enjoyed the entire experience of it all. I am learning so much and I really think this will be something special. I have considered a career in law and I believe that this will give me great experience that I will be able to apply to real life situations.”

Sophomore Jack Welch also was very emphatic on the opportunities Mock Trial presents. “Mock Trial presents an advantage to our plan on entering the field of law and also kind of gives you an advantage over others. I’m glad we have the opportunity to do it. I think everyone is learning more and more everyday about what a real case is like.”

Though the students are only in their first of three trials, Coach Larry Welch believes the group is heading in the right direction. “I think it’s going great. I’m really impressed with the attention, the intellect, and our appetite. Everybody in here pays very close attention and I think we’re making very significant process in a short amount of time.”

The competition for Mock Trial runs from Jan. 11 to Feb. 26. Though the students still have plenty of time until competition, there’s no doubt that those on the Mock Trial team will be circling that Jan. 11 date on their calendars.