Mock Trial equips students with legal skills 


Mr. Matthew Meyer

Fourteen Sacred Heart Greenwich students participated in the Civics First High School Mock Trial competition December 13, 2019.

Fourteen Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School students participated in the 2019-2020 Civics First High School Mock Trial competition December 13, 2019.  The Mock Trial team is open to all interested Sacred Heart students and provides the opportunity to practice strategy and develop legal and trial skills prior to college.

Team members gain trial experience in a “mock” trial setting, including all the challenges entailed for students to prepare cases in a short period of time.  Students involved in Mock Trial include freshmen Gabrielle Wheeler and Genevieve Wichmann, sophomores Mimi Lee and Angélique Wheeler, and juniors Delaney Coleman, Sydney Duncan, Alana Frederick, Piper Gilbert, Annabelle Hartch, Grace Hong, Jenna Kimmel, Mary Clare Marshall, Eloise Moulton, Emily Newton, Hadley Noonan, and Lily Santangelo.  Mr. Matthew Meyer, Upper School History Teacher, oversees the team.

Civics First sponsors the high school Mock Trial competitions, held each fall.  If the team advances from the first round, held at the local level, they progress to regional trials in superior courts throughout the state of Connecticut.  Quarterfinal and semifinal contests follow next.  The state final Mock Trial competition takes place at the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford, according to

The Civics First High School Mock Trial Program began in 1976, and each year the program includes over 700 students from over 50 high schools in Connecticut, according to

Juniors Mary Clare Marshall, Delaney Coleman, Eloise Moulton, Annabelle Hartch, and Emily Newton at the Civics First High School Mock Trial competition. Courtesy of Mr. Matthew Meyer

This year’s case was an adaptation of the 2018-2019 Michigan High School Mock Trial Competition case.  The trial’s hypothetical scenario focused on Mr. Neil Roberts, a seventeen-year-old high school senior competing for a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I track scholarship at the time of his unexpected, fatal heart attack.  His autopsy revealed the steroid Erythropoietin (EPO) in his bloodstream.  Mr. Roberts’ parent filed a lawsuit against his school, Twain Academy, and its track coach, claiming that they encouraged Mr. Roberts to use steroids, according to

The team’s preparation and role assignment for the December competition began in September.  In a Mock Trial competition, as in a real trial, there is a plaintiff, the person accusing another person of some wrongdoing, and a defendant, the person the plaintiff is accusing.  Each side has three lawyers and three witnesses.  Lily, one of the three Mock Trial leaders, represented a lawyer for the plaintiff. 

“Everyone on the team reads the case and we start looking for strengths and weaknesses for both sides.  Then lawyers will begin drafting direct and cross-examination questions. During this time the witnesses will begin memorizing their own affidavit,” Lily said.  “The other people on the team who have not been assigned one of those twelve roles will go through evidence and try to see what, if any, evidence will help to support our case.” 

The team meets twice during the eight-day cycle at the 30 minute break period.  Prior to the competition, the students add extra times to meet to better prepare, including some Saturdays. 

“My favorite part of Mock Trial is the people.  Everyone is so supportive of one another and willing to help with anything.  It is also just a really fun environment to be a part of,” Lily said.  “The timing is definitely the most difficult part of Mock Trial because the competition takes place in December.  It can be difficult to find time to meet with everything going on before break.”

Christine Guido ’20

Delaney acted as one of the three witnesses and was required to memorize approximately six pages of her affidavit for the competition.

“To prepare I have to memorize my affidavit, a statement made by the person I am representing.  It is usually about six pages,” Delaney said. “It is important to memorize it because the other team will ask me questions about what I said in my affidavit to try and get me to admit to something. I also review the direct questions that my lawyer or whoever has been assigned to be my lawyer will ask me when I am on the stand.”

Throughout the competition, Mock Trial expects students to quickly recall evidence from previous team reviews.  Annabelle, the lawyer for the defendant, gave the closing statement during the competition.  She claims the greatest challenge is using her knowledge of law and the case to convince the judge.

“The hardest part is thinking on your feet.  During the competition, the opposing lawyers may object to one of your questions and you have to come up with a response and convince the judge your question is important to the case, and legally sound,” Annabelle said.  “Secondly, lawyers have to come up with redirect or re-cross on the spot if needed in order to clarify your position.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Mr. Matthew Meyer