The YSHS Mock Trial team, from left: Ben Wesolowski,
Jon Bullock, advisor Joyce McCurdy, Jeffrey R. McQuiston, president
of the Dayton Bar Association, Lydia Gerthoffer, Martin Borchers,
James Hyde, Scott Keyes, Rose Byrnes, Glenn Reed, Alex Melecki,
Charlie Cromer, Aaron Zagory and Dylan Borchers.
Mock Trial team earns trip to state championship
Joyce McCurdy, the Yellow Springs High School Mock Trial advisors knew
this years team had panache. She was right.
For the first time since mock trial began in 1983, the Yellow Springs
team won the District 2003 Ohio Mock Trial Competition and qualified for
a shot at the state championship next week.
I think they have the ability to win it, McCurdy said.
The teams district win at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Feb.
21 was particularly triumphant because YSHS had only six weeks to prepare
for trial, while the other 15 Dayton-area teams had over twice as long
to prepare. And both the YSHS prosecuting and defending teams were able
to win their cases in the individual matches.
In mock trial competitions, a panel of three local judges awards points
to each team based on a variety of skills, such as showing the ability
to think quickly in redirecting cross examinations, supporting objections,
knowing courtroom procedure and following courtroom decorum.
YSHS won 343 points, the highest score of the day. The judges awarded
prosecuting attorney Aaron Zagory a best attorney award and James Hyde
and Charlie Cromer won best witness awards.
Chaminade Juliennes team 1 came in second with 334 points and Butlers
team 1 came in third with 325 points. The other participating schools
were Bellbrook, Bethel, Centerville, Eaton, Fairmont, Miamisburg, Northmont,
Trotwood-Madison and Valleyview.
All the teams presented a case based on an historic appeal during the
Civil War concerning an Ohio resident, Lamdin P. Miller, who claimed he
was unlawfully imprisoned for insurrection against the Union.
The YSHS petitioning team was led by Zagory and co-counsel Scott Keyes,
who said they relied on the First Amendment to argue that their client
had not been unpatriotic in speaking out against the Republican Party.
Hyde played the part of Miller, the petitioner, and used logical statements
to refute the accusation that he was a traitor, Keyes said in an interview.
The other witness for the petitioners side was R.C. Bocking, played
by Rose Byrnes.
On the side representing the State of Ohio were lead attorney Alex Melecki
and co-counsel Dylan Borchers, and two witnesses played by Cromer and
Glenn Reed. Though the defending team won its case as well, Borchers said
that morally he was on the side of the petitioner, whose right to free
speech and freedom of expression were hanging in the balance.
It goes against my ideals, but I want to be a lawyer, and this experience
makes me realize youll have to put your own views aside, Borchers
The entire team received a lot of help reinforcing arguments and following
legal protocol from Dayton attorney John Paul Rion. A practicing trial
lawyer, Rion counseled the team for several hours over a few weekends
to help each member prepare for the unexpected.
He helped us a lot with demeanor and poise and told us to stand
up straight and take control of the room, Melecki said.
The other trial participants included Jon Bullock as the bailiff, and
Lydia Gerthoffer, Martin Borchers and Ben Wesolowski as the film crew.
YSHS will compete against 40 other teams during state competition, which
begins Thursday, March 13, at the Franklin County Courthouse, The championship
round will be held at the Town Hall in Ohio Village. The state champion
will receive up to $5,000 to help pay for the opportunity to participate
in the National Mock Trial Competition.