Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Inside the FHS Mock Trial Team's historic advance to the Finals

Each year, the Mass. Bar Association sponsors our statewide competition. They create a fictitious fact pattern. This year's case was a criminal case centered around a police officer's use of deadly force. The charges were brought under federal law as a civil rights violation. 

Teams had to explore and present on issues concerning whether the police officer's use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and if not, whether the excessive force was willful. Each side, Prosecution and Defense, has three witnesses. Attorneys must prepare direct and cross examination questions and an Opening Statement and Closing Argument.

Essentially, the entire season is one long single-elimination tournament. The 132 participating schools are placed into 32 geographical regions. In these preliminary trials, two schools face off in local courtrooms. Each school is told in advance which side they will play. This year, each of our preliminary round trials were extremely close. Franklin emerged as the Regional representative to the next round, which was held at Clark University on March 3.

From that point on, schools do not know which side they will represent until 15 minutes before the match. The two schools are told to meet in an assigned room and flip a coin. The winner of the coin toss decides which side they want to play. Interestingly, Franklin lost the coin toss every time.

This year, Franklin advanced to the Finals for the first time in school history. We were the last public school left in the tournament. The state Finals are held each year at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. A three-judge panel adjudicates the trial. Franklin lost to the Winsor School, which has won the championship five out of the past eight years.

The FHS Mock Trial Team Roster is shown below. Giving a big shout out to the attorney coach, Mike Doherty.  The team also had help along the way from Rep. Jeffrey Roy and one of Mike Doherty's associates, Attorney Andrew Kepple.

FHS Mock Trial Team at Fanuel Hall
FHS Mock Trial Team at Fanuel Hall (@MockWalsh photo)

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