Mock Trial Falls Again to Canton in Third Trial


Mock Trial poses for a picture at the Canton court house after their first win against Foxboro on January 28. They later fell to Canton on February 11.

Devin McKinney

Mock Trial poses for a picture at the Canton court house after their first win against Foxboro on January 23. They later fell to Canton on February
Mock Trial poses for a picture at the Canton court house after their first win against Foxboro on January 28. They later fell to Canton on February 11.

A medical malpractice suit centered around a 19-year-old boy who is dying of cancer: this is the fictional case that was assigned to Walpole High School’s Mock Trial team in the fall of 2015. Mock Trial—coached by history teachers Phillip Balkus and Christopher Jean—allows students the opportunity to experience the different aspects of typical courtroom proceedings. This year’s case, as previously stated, involves a 19-year-old boy named Pat Varma who is suing his doctor for neglecting to find his cancer three years ago. Each member of the team is assigned the part of either a lawyer or a witness, and after months of preparation the team goes up against three other towns.

Every year, the team has to play the part of the plaintiff (prosecution) or defense at least once during the three trials. During their first trial, on Jan. 28, the team went up against Foxboro and won. Similarly, on Feb. 4, Walpole beat Medfield. Each of the first two trials was won by a small margin; however, on Thursday Feb. 11, the team lost to Canton by 18 points. This situation mirrors the team’s position last year as they were also beaten by Canton in their third trial but by a margin of 2 points.

“Last year during the trial, [Canton] tried to get us disqualified. Even though the judge rejected the request for a DQ, her opinion of our performance seemed to change after the request was made. I think it is what lost us the trial,” said senior captain Jimmy King. “[This year], they again tried to get us disqualified despite the fact that they had no grounds for such an outrageous request.”

Usually presided over by a real judge, each trial requires a strict balance between making the side of the opposing team appear unreliable while also fortifying Walpole’s case.

“There are three witnesses for each side, and there can be up to six lawyers: three for the direct examination of our own witnesses, and three for the cross examination of other witnesses,” said Vice President of the team, Junior Karishma Patel.

Not only do the members of the team have to contend with other towns, but they also have to prepare their witnesses and lawyers to ensure that there are as few mistakes as possible in the actual meet. Each member depends on one another to complete his or her assigned tasks.

“At the end of the day, Mock Trial is a team effort. We rely on each other to work hard and do our jobs, so that we can all advance together,” said Patel. “The intensity of it all, and the thrill of fighting against another team [that is] equally as good as you, is a huge part of what makes Mock Trial so attractive.”

In addition to the camaraderie formed between the members of the team, the coaches and captains also encourage a fun and productive environment.

The two teachers that run it are experienced and driven to help us succeed but never back down from telling us a funny joke,” said Junior Tommy Wilbur. “Our captains Jimmy King and Karishma Patel are very experienced and really help young inexperienced members to blossom in the court proceedings.”

In the past 3 years since Mock Trial returned to WHS, Walpole has never advanced past the third trial, and likewise this year brought the same outcome for the team; however, despite the loss, senior captain Jimmy King remains optimistic about the team’s performance as a whole.

“I am proud of all that the team has accomplished this year. Although this loss was disappointing, I do not want it cast a bad light on this [great] program,” said King.