Written by Lance Leonhard
The verdict is in . . .
D.C. Everest walked away as the winner of the High School Mock Trial Wausau Regional Tournament — for the second year in a row!
Not familiar with mock trial?
In short, the program is a combination of debate and theatre that is sponsored by the State Bar of Wisconsin and pits students from different schools against each other in a statewide tournament. It begins each year with a dedicated team of attorneys from across Wisconsin that craft a deeply complex hypothetical legal dispute — complete with witness statement, exhibits, and other court documents.
With the help of teacher-coaches and attorney-coach volunteers, students dissect the case, prepare legal arguments, and choreograph their presentation of the case. But the students can’t simply be ready to deliver their case, they need to be ready to react to the student attorneys and student witnesses who are presenting the other side.
This Year’s Case & Teams
For 2019, students battled it out in a mock criminal trial — prosecutors argued that the defendant should be convicted of murder, while the defense contended that the person merely acted in self-defense.
Teams from Wausau West, D.C. Everest, Stratford, Phillips, and Rhinelander — along with numerous spectators and over 25 volunteers — filled the Marathon County Courthouse on Saturday, February 9.
Not only did D.C. Everest go undefeated en route to defending its title from last year’s regional tournament, but the school actually walked away with both first and second place!
Phillips rounded out the podium in third place.
The top two teams in each regional will move forward to compete at the Wisconsin Mock Trial State Semi-Finals in Madison; however, because no single school can send two teams on to the semi-finals, D.C. Everest and Phillips will both move forward to represent the Wausau Regional.
If my summary didn’t get you thinking that you should find a way to get involved with Mock Trial, read a few of the following quotes from participants in this year’s regional tournament:
“Judging Mock Trial is a great experience. Every year the quality of the students’ presentations continue to impress me. Their preparation and poise while arguing their cases often makes me forget that they are not seasoned litigators, but instead very talented high school students. Mock Trial is as close to what actually occurs in court as you can get, and the students and coaches should be commended for their hard work and excellent performances.”
— Honorable Michael Moran
Marathon County Circuit Court Judge / Mock Trial Volunteer Judge
(Learn more about Judge Moran in “A Day in Judge Moran’s Courtroom I Won’t Soon Forget.”)
“The Mock Trial competition was awesome! The students who participated were poised, prepared, and respectful. Being part of this event makes you hopeful for the future.”
— Honorable Greg Grau
Former Marathon County Circuit Court Judge / Mock Trial Volunteer Judge
“Coaching the D.C. Everest Mock Trial team is something that I look forward to each year. Watching the transformation of these high school students from first reading the case materials to presenting the case at the regional competition and state competition is very rewarding.”
— Kyle Mayo
Assistant District Attorney, Marathon County / D.C. Everest Attorney-Coach
“I have been an active participant on the D.C. Everest Mock Trial team for the past 3 years and my experiences with my teammates and coaches have been nothing but positive. I began my involvement sophomore year as an attorney on our “veteran” team, and with their guidance, I was able to improve upon the skills necessary to compete at the state level. Placing first in our region the last 2 years and heading into the state competition for the third year in a row is incredibly exciting to me. I share these successes with some of the most hardworking and deserving people I know. If it were not for my teammates and our dedicated coaching staff, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I am excited to compete with my team one last time this March and leave it all in the courtroom. I would like to thank the Mock Trial program for all the opportunities it has provided me and for introducing me to some wonderful people. It has helped me discover my passion, and I look forward to pursuing a career pathway in law as I enter college.”
— Libby Radies
Mock Trial Student Team Member
Want to partake in the fun?
The high school mock trial program could not exist without the generous assistance of numerous volunteers. Whether you want to serve as a coach for a local team, a judge, or assist on the day of the Wausau Regional Tournament, your assistance would certainly be appreciated. Contact Marathon County Deputy Administrator Lance Leonhard — one of the regional tournament coordinators — or any local high school to learn more about High School Mock Trial and how you can get involved.
And, if you’re a student and your high school doesn’t currently have a Mock Trial program, visit the State Bar of Wisconsin website to learn more before reaching out to your school principal and teachers.
Until next year . . .
The State of Wisconsin High School Mock Trial Wausau Regional 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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