From Empire San Francisco: The Battle by the Bay

By Keili Bartlett, Editor-in-Chief

At the beginning of the Battle by the Bay, we asked a few mockers how their first day of Empire San Francisco was going.

The Australian approach

Hailing all the way from Sydney, Australia, Barker College’s witness for the plaintiff, Oscar Samios, said his team was feeling good about the first challenge.

“We reckon we’ve done a good job. I think we all expected it to be quite hard coming here, with a different system of trial than what we’re used to. But I think, as a team, we’re pretty happy with how we’ve embraced the new system and gotten involved.”

Oscar said the case is ten times longer than what they would get in Australia. They normally get only two witness statements that are a page long each, compared to the ten witness statements they received here.

“We’re not used to getting anything before the trial — we’re not used to having five months to prepare. Usually it’s two weeks and we only get our own witness statements. And there are a lot of the rules of evidence are very different from what we have in Australia.”

Oscar said the extra time didn’t make much of a difference for his team, since they normally procrastinate anyway.

“But it was definitely nice to be able to read over it and have it sort of simmering away in the back of our mind rather than trying to jump straight onto it and do everything at the last minute.”

How is the questioning different?

“In Australia we have to recite our scripts verbatim. So it’s been very different having the more fluid questions that the attorneys will ask that will be slightly different every time. And seeing different ways attorneys will take cross-examination. In Australia we always focus on trying to discredit the witness as much as we could, but here that doesn’t seem to be as much of a focus, certainly not in the first round.”

Is there anything interesting or unique that you’ve learned from the judges?

“It’s been really unique watching how quickly the judges deal with everything. In Australia, we’re used to a much slower process and the judges will go through and explain what they’re doing and the attorneys will have to explain their objection. But here it’s just objection, relevance, granted and everything keeps on moving. There’s very little dialogue. It’s quite interesting to see.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing the trial process continue, and seeing how far we can go in this competition.”

You can read more about the Australian team’s experience at the 2015 Battle by the Bay at their blog: www.thesanfranproject.blogspot.com.

The Arizona angle

Representing Xavier College Prep from Arizona, Poorvi Dua and Taylor Lawritson said they were learning a lot through the competition.

How are your challenges going today?

Taylor: “This challenge was crazy. We went against a team who had a lot of different strengths than we did, so that was interesting because at home we’d been scrimmaging against our coaches and people who are on our regular season team, and so we all kind of have the same style. But this team had a completely different style than we did, so the stuff that we were really worried about didn’t come out, but there was stuff we were completely not prepared for.”

Poorvi: “It’s interesting actually to see how people all over the world can fight a case that is universal.”

Taylor: “We’re a team that focuses a lot on the presentation side of it. We also focus really hard on our objections and exceptions to objections, being able to argue them. They didn’t have either of those, but they had a lot of different things that were very interesting.”

Was there anything unique/interesting that you learned from the judges?

Poorvi: “There’s so much that we’ve learned through mock trial, and they recognize that we are trying hard and doing our best.”

What was your favorite thing from the pin exchange?

Taylor: “The South Korean team had these cool keychains. And also, I got chopsticks!”

Poorvi: “This is kind of nerdy, but there was a pen with a highlighter on the end, and those are really awesome.”

Are you making any new friends?

Poorvi: “We did make friends with the team from Hong Kong. They were really nice — they came up to us and hugged us at the end of the round! It was so sweet.”

The local perspective

Victoria and Valerie Nea’s first challenge was also the first time the San Gabriel mockers were on the plaintiff’s side.

How was your first challenge?

Valerie: “It was really challenging, but really fun. We learned some new rules that can help us bring evidence into the trial. That was a little challenging for us, but with the help from the judges at the end, it was really helpful. We’re going to use it at our next trial.”

Are you making any new friends?

The team San Gabriel faced first turned out to be made up of the new friends they’d met on the bay cruise the night before.

Valerie: “We met a lot of people that are also from California, some that are pretty close to Los Angeles, too. It’s really fun getting to know them.”

Victoria: “We also talked to the teams from Hong Kong and Korea. It’s so cool to meet people from other countries.”

As the first witness, Hunter Johnson said the first challenge was nerve-wracking, but that he “loved every second of it.”

Hunter Johnson is one of the local mockers representing Bishop O’Dowd High School from Oakland, CA. As a local, he said it was cool to learn about what the lawyers who volunteered with the competition are doing for the community.

Bishop O’Dowd first faced Cheongshim International from South Korea. Since their team is made up of only six people, Hunter said it was interesting to see them take on so many different roles.

His favorite thing from the pin exchange was the lanyard. He put all of the schools’ pins on it, and has been wearing it almost constantly since.

What’s it like meeting so many different teams?

“I’ve kind of been talking to every single one of the teams. I think the boat cruise last night was nice because we kind of viewed everyone as opponents, and then last night we got to know everyone as people. Like, wow, you’re really a person — you’re not just this cut-throat lady! I just think it’s really interesting that we’re all here to compete against each other, but at the same time we’re all making amazing friends and connections and bonds.”

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