For the past twelve years, Mililani High School’s mock trial club, advised by social studies teacher Jason Duncan, has been participating in nationwide legal trial competitions. Students in the club act out being involved in a court case in order to improve their public speaking skills.
“Mock trial is kind of a club where you can have a voice and kind of represent others. So in mock trial, we basically are given a trial and some people on the team represent witnesses within the trial, but others represent attorneys,” said Senior Jenesis Finks. “I have been an attorney for mock trial this year and last year and basically we just compete against other schools and try to make the best case that we can.”
Mock trial is an extracurricular program in which students participate in rehearsed trials to learn about the legal system in a competitive manner. One of the key points of mock trial is the focus on improving the public speaking skills of the participants.
“The whole point is that we evolve your skills through this club, especially when it comes to public speaking — being assertive. We’ve had people that are coming in and they’re super shy, super quiet, and then at this point, in less than a year has passed and they’ve blossomed into these super aggressive people on the stand,” said two-year participant Senior Emily Huff. “I think it definitely develops those skills and also just knowledge of the law in general.”
The students in the club work together to win a given court case decided by the competition. The cases generally alternate between serious cases and smaller claims cases.
“Last year, we had a civil case that involved whistleblowing, and this year, our case is about murder. So, you know, it varies. It’s really exciting,” said Finks.
The club tends to draw in a variety of people.
“Mock trial has a lot of actor participation, primarily as witnesses,” said Finks. “People who are interested in speech and debate, and a lot of people from Mr. Duncan’s classes tend to join.”
Sophomore Jason Prescott said, “Literally anyone who wants to participate, can. Usually people who want to improve their public speaking skills or who are interested in law tend to participate.”
With all the different kinds of people who join, the motivation to go forward varies amongst members. Finks’ favorite part of mock trial is winning.
“Just being in a competitive environment and knowing that you did a good job, it’s all about kind of validation. I really like that part of it. But I also kind of like the camaraderie, you know, when you’re in mock trial you are in a club with people that you may not usually hang out with,” said Finks.
“Everyone should try the mock trial. We always welcome new people, even if you don’t think that you’re good at what skills may be required, such as public speaking or talking in front of people or just being assertive. The whole point is that we help you to develop those skills in a warm and comfortable environment that tests your boundaries. So it’s a good experience for everyone,” said Huff.
Those who are interested in learning more about mock trial, or would like to join the club can visit Mr. Duncan in room O-103.