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Mock Trial team competes in Howlett Cup

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The 2016-17 Mock Trial team competed in the Howlett Cup last weekend.

The 2016-17 Mock Trial team competed in the Howlett Cup last weekend.

The 2016-17 Mock Trial team competed in the Howlett Cup last weekend.

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On Friday night and Saturday morning, the Mount Carmel Mock Trial team competed in the fourth annual Howlett Cup Mock Trial competition.  The Howlett Cup is an “invite-only” competition for Catholic schools in the Chicago area.  This year there were eight teams competing: Cristo Rey, Cristo Rey St. Martin, Christ the King, DePaul Prep, Fenwick, St. Ignatius, Loyola Academy, and Mount Carmel.
The competition takes place in courtrooms within the Daley Center. Each team competes twice – once on Friday night and once on Saturday morning.  For each trial, each team puts on a different side of the same case and competes against a different school. Each trial takes place in front of an actual judge, with five jurors comprised of lawyers, legal professionals, and law school professors. On Friday night, Mount Carmel’s team played the role of the plaintiffs in competition against St. Ignatius’ defense team.  On Saturday morning MC represented the defendants and competed against Cristo Rey.
This year’s trial had to do with an altercation that took place between two hockey players in the course of a game. During that altercation, one of the players hit the other on the top of his head with his hockey stick, landing him in the hospital with a severe head injury known as a subdural hematoma. The injured player sued the other player, charging him with battery and negligence.
For each trial, teams are required to use five students, two acting as attorneys and three acting as witnesses.  On Friday night, our plaintiff team consisting of attorneys Blake Lopez and Juan De La Torre and witnesses Adam Sieracki, Isaac Nydegger, and Zach Pasciak, defeated St. Ignatius. On Saturday morning, our defense team, consisting of attorneys Juan De La Torre and Branimir Ilic and witnesses Adam Sieracki, Anthony Morales, and Zach Pasciak, lost to Cristo Rey.
Overall, it was an amazing experience for our students. In addition to putting in many hours of preparation, they had the opportunity to present a case in an actual courtroom in front of a judge and other legal professionals.  In addition, they had the good fortune to receive feedback from the judge and each of the legal professionals who were on the jury, including a retired Loyola University law professor. Each of the judges, while offering constructive criticism, praised the overall performance and behavior of our players.
Finally, as a part of their training, the students were coached by Mr. Robert Vogt, MC class of 1978, and partner in the Chicago law firm of Weldon-Linne & Vogt. Over the course of several months, Mr. Vogt came to Mount Carmel several times a week to work with our students on every detail of their presentation, including legal arguments; details of how to address the judge, the jury, and the opposing counsel; the organization of their testimony; and even when to button and unbutton their suit coats.
In the end, our students learned an enormous amount not only about the law, but about how to think and behave as professionals.  It was an educational experience that will last a lifetime.
Guest Contrbutor Dr. Jon Berry – the moderator of Mount Carmel’s Mock Trial Team – teaches Latin and English at Mount Carmel.   Any student who is interested in joining next year’s Mock Trial team is invited to contact Doc Berry for more information.  
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Mock Trial team competes in Howlett Cup