Mock Trial tryouts show promise

October 11, 2012 — by Ashwini Velchamy

Nearly two years after reaching the 2011 Santa Clara County Finals, the mock trial team is determined to return.
“Going to finals was one of the most nerve-wracking and exhilarating moments,” junior Jennie Werner, who will play the defendant this year, said. “I’m hoping we have that same opportunity again this year.”

During tryouts, students were split into groups of three and circulated among the positions of witness, cross examining attorney and direct examining attorney. Captains and coaches then determined the final cast list for the new team.
Social studies teacher Jim Chin, who has stepped into the position of teacher coach after the departure of teacher Jeff Scott last year, said he was impressed at the turnout for tryouts on Oct. 2.

“I was glad to see so many freshmen and sophomores audition as it bodes well for the future,” Chin said.
Several of the younger additions to the team, such as freshman understudy Karthik Padmanaban, joined mock trial because of their interest in law.

“I wanted to experience what it would be like to be in a courthouse representing somebody,” Padmanaban said.
Chin is looking forward to working with the team and watching the characters develop over the year.
“I feel like it’s early in the game, but the cast looks like a strong blend of new and veteran students, under and upperclassmen,” Chin said.

Long-time attorney coach Dr. Hugh Roberts agreed, adding that the tryouts showed that several students had “a serious interest and took the time to prepare well.”
Roberts started the mock trial program at the school in 1983 and has been running it with the help of various teacher coaches since then.

“[The team] is continuing to rebuild from the many key seniors who graduated from our winning team of two years ago,” Roberts said, referencing the team’s participation in the 2011 County Finals. “We have a strong contingent returning from last year under the leadership of [seniors] Ashwini Velchamy and Rohan Cotah.”
Roberts believes that this year’s team will be highly competitive.

This year’s case is a hit-and-run in which the defendant, a high school swimmer, is accused of driving into a bicyclist while texting. The pretrial motion deals with the Fifth Amendment.
“As illustrated by the Oakland A’s,” Roberts said, “it will ultimately depend on how much effort the whole team is willing to expend to be their very best.”

The cast for the 2012-2013 mock trial team: Pretrial attorneys-senior Ashwini Velchamy and sophomore Max Chang; Prosecution Attorneys-Velchamy (lead), junior Casey Takahashi and freshman Nithika Arunkumar; Defense Attorneys-senior Rohan Cotah (lead), junior Eric Kao and sophomore Anshika Maheshwari; Prosecution Witnesses-juniors Sachi Verma, Charles Li and Samuel Liu and sophomore Tesia Sun; Defense Witnesses-juniors Jennie Werner and Julianne Wey, sophomore Catherine Cheng and freshman Janani Velchamy; Understudies- juniors Allison Chang and Steven Tran, sophomore Michelle Luo and Linus Lu and freshmen Kelly Xiao, Nancy Hu and Karthik Padmanaban.

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