Shot dead in the act: Mock Trial


Bryce Lee

Nathan Franz as prosecution attorney, direct examining Officer Dylan Perkins played by Andrew Phares.

“On Tuesday, October 27,2015 at 20:22 hours, I was dispatched to 2601 Hudson Avenue, the Crane River Theater in Goldenrod, Nebraska. The dispatcher reported that two people had been shot at that location. When I arrived, there was only one victim, Ms. Louise Choanike. She had a single gunshot wound to the chest and a massive amount of blood. I determined that the victim was deceased and that it was too late to save her.”

This dialogue was taken out of Dylan E. Perkins witness statement in mock trial’s 2016 criminal case. “Mock trial is a school driven competition where two teams literally perform a real trial,” mock trial coach Kirk Livingston said.   However, mock trial is not just an ordinary trial. The two sides, defense or prosecution, are made up of high schoolers. Both teams have to be ready to represent either side because 30 minutes before the trial a draw from a hat determines which side they represent. On October 3rd, the first practice trial was be held in North Platte’s courthouse.

The jury isn’t composed of random people, there are a few real lawyers present. The teams are judged on how well they deliver, not on if the trial goes their way.  Four trials are held at the beginning of November, whoever wins these trials will then advance to the district competition.

The teams are given all the same information, including affidavits and witness statements, from a make believe case. With the information given, the students have to create  a series of open-ended questions to get the information needed to prove their side. “Every side of each witness has their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s the job of the team to find them,” Livingston said.“It really helps the kids learn to think on their feet.”

North Platte has two teams competing this year, and both teams are eager to win. They learn how to better organize thoughts,  make a plan to persuade the jury, and learn how to work as a team. “It really helps put me in the eyes of a lawyer and it gives me a mix of the legal system and theatre,” sophomore Nathan Franz said.

Sophomore Jake Gutschenritter took a chance when he joined the team last year and is glad he did. “I figured, why not?” Gutschenritter said. He says the trial really helps him with his memorization and his speaking skills. “Once you’re on the stand it’s you versus everyone. My team is relying on me. Gutschenritter said. “It makes every second of hard work worthwhile.”