Mock Trial team falls to county’s second-best

Leonna Fallas, BP Staff

Hannah-Leeba Ellenhorn, Staff Writer

Cyber-bullying, First Amendment rights and assault charges were all elements of the case that Shalhevet debaters argued in the school’s third annual participation in the Mock Trial competition.

For Shalhevet, the competition ended early, when they lost round two to Monroe High School of North Hills.  Ironically, they were excluded early because they did so well in Round 1 that they played the toughest team in the state in Round 2.

Shalhevet defeated the California Math and Science Academy in round one by what advisor Mr. Christopher Buckley called an “admirable margin. ”  CMSA is currently ranked No. 22 on U.S. News and World Report’s annual survey of the best public schools in the country.

As lead prosecutor, senior Jenny Newman successfully impeached the opposing witness for lying on the stand, and mock trial Judge Eric Schneider applauded Jenny for her courtroom skills and demeanor.  Shalhevet won the first round scoring 226 out of a possible 300.

Shalhevet moved on to round two. Pitted against James Monroe High School, a public high school with just under 3,000 students and last year’s second place finisher, the Shalhevet Team lost 255 to 223.

“Our scores were actually very good,” Mr. Buckley said. “It’s just that our opponent’s scores were outstanding. The second round of the competition proved to be an uphill battle for Shalhevet because our opponents were clearly a better team, and they were extremely polished and confident.”

In an interview with KABC reporter Marc Brown, Kathy Graber, Monroe High’s mock-trial coach, said that the school’s team had put in two to three hours of daily practice sessions. In addition, the Monroe team is put through its paces by George Schiavelli, a retired federal judge.

In a particularly riveting span of two minutes, senior and team co-captain Ari Tuchman — defense attorney during the second round — was able to string out five straight sustained objections against Monroe.  Mr. Buckley said this was a standout moment for Shalhevet’s 2010 team.

Unfortunately the Shalhevet team did not have what Judge Howard Halm described as the “chemistry” to capture winning scores.

Jenny Newman, co-captain along with Ari, is not completely disappointed with the loss.

“Monroe High was a worthy adversary and I’m glad to have had the chance to go down fighting hard against a team that was genuinely better than us,” Jenny said. “Instead of losing to an inferior team with questionable scruples.”

Both Mr. Buckley and Jenny said the “Mock Trizzlers,” as team members like to call themselves, lacked polish but not skill.

Jenny added that  Shalhevet’s team works around many other extra-curriculars and class until 5, while at Monroe, Mock Trial is their main extracurricular.

Ultimately Arcadia High School represented Los Angeles County at the state level of the Mock Trial competition.  Hillsdale High of San Mateo County placed first in the 2010 California State Mock Trial Finals. The final showdown to capture the State title will be held March 25-27, 2011, in Riverside.