Montclair defeats Mock Trial team in state semifinals, but these lawyers see nothing but positive outcomes, including no more stuttering

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Members of Eastern's Mock Trial.

Shhhh . . .

   Mr. Farrow is having a love affair. Well, a love affair with Mock Trial.

  The math teacher wasn’t an advisor for any club. “The activities coordinator asked me if I was interested,” he said, “and I said ‘sure.’”

  He began advising with Mr. Colton in 2008 before Colton became the advisor for Team Theater. It was something that always interested Farrow. He didn’t participate in Mock Trial as a student, but his mother was a teacher at Camden Catholic. “They had it there,” he said, “so I was familiar with it.”

  It’s a novel concept: students dress in suits for a day as pretend lawyers, yet, it’s an actual extracurricular activity; and they’re pretty good at it too.

  A mock trial consists of two sides: the prosecution and the defense (one mock trial team has both a prosecution and defense team). Early in the year, both sides are given workbooks containing witness statements, evidence, and other important details.

  The workbooks allow the lawyers to prepare questions for witnesses to ensure credibility of their testimonies. The trial starts with a four minute opening statement, followed by a direct and cross examination of six witnesses, and ends with an eight minute closing argument. Then, judges review the case and the evidence presented, rewarding the side they deemed presented the best argument.

  This season, the Eastern Mock Trial team romped undefeated to the South Jersey finals, and earned a victory there as well. However, they lost in the state semifinals against Central Jersey champs, Bordentown, and North Jersey champs, Montclair.

  It was the best season Eastern Mock Trial has ever had. “The previous best was one time when we got to the South Jersey finals and lost in the final,” said Mr. Farrow.

  Senior co-captain Avi Patel’s favorite memory of his mock trial career was how close the team was. “The team has become really close and like a close friend group, being together so much,” he said. “We all get sick together.”

  Senior Marissa Nissley agreed. “The team bond is really something that’s special. I’ve never done sports, so I’ve never had that team experience. It was great. Your success depends on how everyone else does as well.”

  Patel also recalls a humorous moment from state semis as his favorite of the season. “One of our witnesses, Bryce Dershem, had to fill in for our other witness, who was at DECA. Bryce was speaking in haikus, and the Bordentown attorney was getting annoyed and asked him to stop. He said, ‘I can’t control the coping mechanism. The coping mechanism controls me.’”

   Nissley’s favorite moment was after every win. “My co-counsel, Hannah Kates, would hug me so hard I’d almost fall out of my seat.”

   Patel also said that it’s hard to go into a case thinking you’ve already won. “Honestly, you don’t know what the other team is going to say, so you have to memorize the entire case,” he said.

    The three agree that besides learning about the legal system, Mock Trial offers so much more.

“You can learn so many different skills, like working well with others, how to present yourself professionally, poise, and confidence,” said Nissley.

    Mr. Farrow also said that critical thinking and public speaking are other attributes one can learn from mock trial.

  Patel agreed. “It fixed my stutter,” he said. “I stopped stuttering and learned public speaking skills.”