By Delia Rune, Liberal Arts & Sciences Academy

A new mock trial team from LASA High School is taking on the competition this year at the YMCA Youth and Government (YAG) District Conference. Composed of eight girls, team #209 is excited to experience a YAG trial for the first time. Lilia Marshall, a sophomore at LASA and a lawyer for her team, said the preparation for their first trial has been rigorous.

“We spent a lot of time getting the witnesses ready and coaching them on how to do it,” Marshall said. “We also did a run-through ahead of time, so we could see where the kinks were and adjust timing if we needed to.”

According to Marshall, the most difficult thing about participating in YAG’s judicial section is everything that comes in advance of the trial itself. She explained that not knowing what arguments or questions the other team will ask can be anxiety-provoking. But once the trial starts, things are usually more fun.

“I think the hardest part is getting over nerves,” Marshall said, “Once you’re in there, you’re ready to go… I really love the adrenaline you get during it, being able to argue against other people.”

In mock trial, each team has two lawyers and six witnesses. Sabrine Petusky, a junior at LASA and a witness for Marshall’s trial team, explained that being a witness has a specific set of challenges.

“From a witness standpoint, there’s a lot of memorization, and you have to say the facts in exactly the correct words,” Petusky said, “Often, I’ll have to piece things together in my mind and say how I best remember it.”

Marshall agrees that a lot of what mock trial teaches you is how to organize information in your mind and then deliver it succinctly to an audience. She feels that doing YAG has given her a lot of skills she wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

“I think [YAG] has mainly taught me how to think on the spot,” Marshall said, “But also how to formulate arguments and shorten what I’m saying into a smaller timespan.”

But according to Petusky, mock trial is not only a learning experience, it’s a lot of fun, too. Getting to think in new ways and meet new people makes the YAG District Conference a very exciting event for first-time participants.

“I love this whole thing, it’s so fun,” Petusky said, “It’s really intellectually stimulating. My favorite part of the trial itself is cross-examination because I’m a witness, but, honestly, I just love everything about it.”

Petusky explained that the community created in judicial is part of what makes mock trial so special. No other sections get to work and prepare with a group of teammates.

“I definitely don’t know everyone, but we’re all talking about our case together, and we’re all communicating and collaborating. It’s just like a really fun community here… it feels like we are all working together as a team to make everything to function.”

Team 209 prepares for their second trial of the day. Grace O’Bryan and Lilia Marshall, the team’s two lawyers, sit in the front row looking over their oral arguments.