Written by Lance Leonhard
On Saturday, February 10, 2018, the Marathon County Courthouse once again served as a regional host of Wisconsin’s High School Mock Trial Tournament. Over 150 students from 15 teams in Northcentral Wisconsin battled it out in a marathon tournament lasting over 10 hours!
Wait… You’ve never heard of Mock Trial?
Well, let me bring you up to speed…
Wisconsin’s High School Mock Trial program began in 1983 and is sponsored by the State Bar. Each year, a dedicated team of volunteer attorneys craft a deeply complex hypothetical legal dispute — replete with witness statements, exhibits, and court documents!
This year’s case involved a dispute between a large mining company and a protester alleged to have trespassed onto the company’s land and damaged a large piece of equipment.
After the hypothetical dispute topic was released in October 2017, students and coaches pored over the materials — analyzing the controlling law, developing strategies and arguments, and honing their case presentations. Last week’s regional tournament was the culmination of months of dedicated effort…
And it showed!
With teams from Wausau West, D.C. Everest, Merrill, Wisconsin Rapids, Phillips, Lakeland Union, Rhinelander, Marshfield, and Stratford, this year’s tournament was our BIGGEST — AND BEST — yet!
When the dust settled, a new champion was crowned…
D.C. Everest bested all challengers, going undefeated and topping perennial Mock Trial powerhouse — and former National Champion — Rhinelander High School (see last year’s Mock Trial article here).
Teams from Marshfield and Lakeland Union High School rounded out the top three, taking second and third place, respectively.
Both D.C. Everest and Marshfield will compete at the Wisconsin Mock Trial Semi-Finals at the Dane County Courthouse on March 9 and 10, 2018, with the hope of advancing to the Finals at the Wisconsin Supreme Court and — with a little luck and a whole lot of skill — the National Championship in May.
Read what some of this year’s participants said about the experience:
“As a student, Mock Trial makes me feel genuinely confident with myself and my future. This organization has helped shape what I now know to be determination and passion; it’s changed me for the better. The people I’ve met, the memories that I cherish, are unbelievably extraordinary thanks to this program. I’m thankful for the years I’ve dedicated to this club, and I’m excited and hopeful to see how Mock Trial will influence the future generations to come through.” — Felysity Cha
“Mock trial is extremely important to me because it taught me how to work efficiently with a team, act confident even if you’re not, and how to think on your feet. Because we work on a team, I was able to create many relationships with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Every single person on our team has become very important to me. The confidence mock trial gave me will undoubtedly help me succeed in all of my future endeavors. Thank you to everyone involved!” — Lily Bliven
“This team really meant a lot to all of us. We strengthened friendships and built new ones. It feels really good to represent this region at the state tournament. We really showed how well we work as a team, and we are all proud how well Everest was represented at the regional competition.” — Jordan Sazama
“It never ceases to amaze me both in the dedication the students give but also the amount of time coaches such as Elizabeth Reeths, Vicki Karcher, Kyle Mayo, Greg Strasser, and the teacher coaches give so selflessly. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute with the team, and the time spent with the students and coaches is the reason that we all keep coming back every year, and also why it makes every second spent in preparation worth it regardless of the outcome.” — Attorney Rick Cveykus
“The students who participated in the Mock Trial competition were poised, prepared, and thoughtful. It was a pleasure to watch them compete and absolutely uplifting to know that they will be impacting the future.” — Honorable Greg Grau, Marathon County Circuit Court Reserve Judge / Long-time Mock Trial Volunteer Judge
Thinking you might want to be a part of next year’s regional tournament as a volunteer? Contact Marathon County Deputy Administrator Lance Leonhard, one of the tournament’s coordinators.
For those students, parents, or teachers who don’t have a Mock Trial program at their high school, reach out to the State Bar to learn more. New schools are coming on board each year; next time, it could be YOUR school moving on to Madison!
Until next year…
The Wausau Regional Mock Trial Tournament is adjourned.
Marathon County Deputy Administrator
Lance Leonhard began his career in Marathon County government in the Office of Corporation Counsel and currently serves as the Marathon County Deputy Administrator. Lance’s career in public service has spanned more than a decade, having worked for the federal government as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for the state of Wisconsin as an Assistant District Attorney. Outside of work, you’re likely to find Lance spending time with his family, traveling, teeing off on a local golf course, or sitting around a campfire with friends. Email Lance Leonhard
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