Conard Mock Trial Triumphs in Court, Advances to Next Round
By: Katelyn Czajkowski, Mock Trial Correspondent
After months of rigorous practice, the Conard High School Mock Trial team sparred against other schools across Connecticut in the first round of what promises to be a challenging competition. This year, the debate hinges on the fictional murder of beloved high schooler Sigourney Porter, killed by a fatal blow to the head on the night of Halloween. That night, along with best friend Leslie Crandall, she attended a party held by the man now on trial for her murder, Wilbur Merrit IV. Other testifying witnesses, such as experts and bystanders, make this case incredibly complex and fun to watch unfold. Conard’s Prosecution and Defense have developed strong cases to either convict or acquit the defendant, respectively.
Before we dive into the case, it is important to understand what Mock Trial is. Mock Trial is a competition that simulates a real-world court trial. Every year, teams across the United States receive new cases to study and prepare their arguments against the opposing counsel. Usually, students that participate in this competition pursue careers in Law, Politics, or Business. However, there are a myriad of other reasons why someone would want to participate in the Mock Trial Club at Conard. The whole team is like a family, even if it might be a little chaotic at times.
The team is divided evenly in two, with the exception of official timekeeper Maya Petterson. One half makes up the Prosecution, and the other, Defense. On January 29th, Conard’s Prosecution won against Lewis Mills with a considerable point difference. Hours later, our Defense tied against Ridgefield High. The Conard Courant is excited to announce that these two successes mark the team's progression in the statewide competition.
The case is being tried is Merritt v Connecticut. The Mock Trial team has spent countless hours pouring through the affidavits, exhibits, and facts provided by Civics First, the organization that coordinates the competition. The story is as follows. On October 31st, 2014, best friends Sigourney Porter and Leslie Crandall attended a Halloween party at Adriaen’s Landing in Hartford. Throughout the night, Sigourney had texted Leslie that she was becoming uncomfortable after fellow student Wilbur Merrit IV had been following her. The privileged and athletic Wilbur was a popular student who was known as a bully to some and a friend to others. When Leslie left the party she told Winchester Colt III, a close friend of hers and Sigourney, to keep an eye out for her friend. What happened next becomes unclear. The next morning, Sigourney Porter was found dead on the side of the Connecticut River. Due to a lack of evidence, the case went cold. That is, until years later when Wilbur Merrit admitted to murdering Sigourney during an initiation process.
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the practices and trials are being held virtually by Zoom. Usually, Civics First would host the official trials in real courthouses across Connecticut, a privilege that many students look forward to. Additionally, this year saw the introduction of individual awards included in the final score of each school’s performance during the trial. Teams are judged by their presentation, not by whether their side won the case. The Courant is pleased to announce that many members of the Conard Mock Trial Club received these awards. On the Prosecution, Co-Captain Arianna Fandozzi, Sophie Thompson, and Katelyn Czajkowski received Best Attorney, Second Best Attorney, and Best Witness, respectively. On the Defense, Quinn Moynihan, Christina Gomes, and Lydia Griffin received Second Best Attorney, Best Witness, and Second Best Witness, respectively.
The second round in the competition is this Friday, February 26th. Keep it with The Conard Courant for more updates.