Successful Mock Trial Season Ends as Conard Students Win Multiple State Level Awards
By: Katelyn Czajkowski
Months of intense preparation and after-school practice have culminated in a successful 2020-2021 season for the Conard Mock Trial Team. On February 26th, the second round of trials hosted by Civics First High School Mock Trial took place, followed by a closing ceremony. The ceremony marked the end of the state-wide competition and Conard High School's involvement with the case of Merritt vs. Connecticut.
Coming off a win from the previous trial, the Conard Prosecution sparred against Sacred Heart Greenwich in the morning, arguing that the defendant Willbur Merrit IV was guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Both the Prosecution and Defense skillfully argued their points and presented evidence and information in an attempt to sway the jury, which included Judge Despina Tartsinis and UCONN law student Jessica Tang. Ultimately, the ruling favored the Conard Prosecution based on their performance and analysis of the evidence. Judge Tartsinis and Tang both commented that they were impressed by the teams' incredible effort and preparation and noted that they were happily surprised by the high amount of female participation in the trial. The Conard Prosecution didn't just earn the satisfaction of winning-- many of its members also walked away with special awards. Arianna Fandozzi and Sophie Thompson received Best Attorney and Second Best Attorney, respectively. Additionally, Katelyn Czajkowski and Hugh Baldwin received Best Witness and Third Best Witness, respectively.
Later in the day, the defense challenged Fairfield Ludlowe's Prosecution in an intense and arduous debate that ultimately resulted in a loss for Conard by a single point. While disappointing, it should be noted that Judges Erica Visokey and David Moore were understandably impressed with the arguments and theories presented by our team. Through text messages and various testimonies, the defense asserted that the opposing council's characterization of the defendant Wilbur Merrit IV was not based in fact, aiming to discredit their witnesses and arguments. Although the Conard Mock Trial Team did not advance, the team walked away with plenty of awards. Alexandra Bernstein-Naples and Quinn Moynihan received Best Attorney and Third Best Attorney, respectively. Christina Gomes and Lydia Griffin also won Second Best Witness and Third Best Witness, respectively.
With the loss on the 26th, the Conard Mock Trial Team's participation in the competition has unfortunately ended. However, we must acknowledge the substantial effort put in by its members. Since October, the students have practiced six hours every week from a shared passion for law. These students must be commended for their hard work and contribution to Conard High School's many successes.
For more on Mock Trial, keep it with the Conard Courant.