Mock Trial Places 8th at Empire World Championships in New York


The Mock Trial team poses after winning 8th place at the Empire World Championships in New York.

By Sarah Waters, News and Academics Editor

This past weekend, Niles West’s Mock Trial team placed eighth out of 40 teams at the Empire World Championship, the most competitive high school Mock Trial competition in the world. The team was only one ballot away from competing in the final championship round.

Mock Trial is a competitive activity where students portray the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a mock court of law. In the interest of accuracy, attorneys must be well versed in the Federal Rules of Evidence, conduct both cross and direct examinations, and give opening and closing statements. Students often role-play and get into character according to the specifics of the case.

Under the leadership of senior team captains Christian Mancino and Irena Petryk, the students have been preparing for the world championships for months.

“The team started to prepare for this competition in July. The team was extremely dedicated, and team members met three times a week during the summer, and we met four times a week once school started,” club sponsor Jason Stanford said. “We received a case packet that contained over 200 pages of affidavits, exhibits, and other important legal documents. During our practices, we analyzed the different documents and began to prepare a story and theme for both sides of the case.”

Throughout the rigorous schedule, the team developed a close-knit community and bonded over their shared goals.

“Our team is an extremely close-knit group of people. Since our team is small and we spend so much time together, we have a lot of team chemistry,” Mancino said. “I can’t say enough good things about my teammates. They’re all wonderful people who come to practice ready to work and learn. They make practice super fun and worthwhile.”

After months of preparation, the team was still able to adapt to whatever each new match brought. According to members, their expertise and ability to improvise helped set them apart from the rest of the competition.

“I think that what set our team apart from others was our ability to adapt,” Petryk said. “There were several times when we had to add new cross-examination questions based on the material the opposing side brought up, or to respond to unexpected objections.”

In Mock Trial competitions, teams must argue both sides — plaintiff and defense — of a certain mock court case. Teams are randomly matched during their first round, then assigned matches based on their record. Well-performing teams compete against other well-performing teams — the same for poorly performing teams.

After three rounds, Niles West was 6-0. They lost their last round in a close match against Franklin, a team from Maryland.