Rookie Mock Trial Witnesses Compete

Aspen Cotton, Staff Writer

Bina Mbuloko (9) has always been outspoken. Earlier this year, looking for an outlet for her love of talking, she was considering joining Speech and Debate when she came across Mock Trial. 

Both activities involved public speaking and used argumentative skills, both of which Mbuloko enjoyed. Mock Trial, though, had aspects of real-life courtroom situations and civics that interested Mbuloko. 

 “I kind of liked the idea of playing the part of someone else,” Mbuloko said.  “It was also interesting to learn about laws and courtroom proceedings.”

Heth Bhatt (10) is also in his first year of Mock Trial. Mbuloko and Bhatt are set to participate in scrimmages, acting as witnesses for the defense. This is unusual, as prior to this, seniors and seasoned members of Mock Trial were usually the ones acting as witnesses; the newcomers being clerks or bailiffs, honing their acting and argumentative skills in preparation for future roles.

“Honestly, it’s kind of intimidating seeing how experienced everyone else is,” Bhatt said. “The other members of the team have been doing it for years.”

Mbuloko added that in the beginning, it was difficult for her to adjust to the rigorous work that came with participating.

“It was challenging, especially when you start out, because it is all about memorizing your statements,” Mbuloko said. “It’s a lot of stuff on your own time.”

Being a defense witness involves maintaining credibility under intense pressure; the students are often grilled by the prosecution, trying to get the witness to slip up and decrease their credibility. 

“You definitely have to be a confident public speaker,” Bhatt said. “You also have to be a creative thinker and not be afraid to throw out ideas.”

Despite the difficulty inherent to the extracurricular, the team has been welcoming and preparing the newcomers for their upcoming roles in scrimmages.

Mbuloko’s paired attorney, Aadya Nayak (12), has helped her prepare by practicing how to respond to cross-examinations and questions from the defense. 

“She basically tells me what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right,” Mbuloko said. “She’s constantly trying to help me with what’s written in my statements.”

Mbuloko and Bhatt were given an opportunity to use their skills in a scrimmage on November 5th, where they competed as witnesses. 

“It went really well, and was a great learning experience for me,” Bhatt said. “It went how I thought it would go; everything went to plan.”