Walpole Mock Trial Team Makes First Playoffs


Kate McLellan

The Mock Trial Team poses after their win.

Lauren Celardo, Staff Writer

The Walpole High School Mock Trial team has advanced to the playoff rounds of their competition for the first time in team history. To qualify for the tournament, a team must win all of their three preliminary rounds: Walpole has gone 3-0 in these rounds, beating Westwood, Canton and Sharon to make the cut to the top 32 advancing teams. The teams will be narrowed down through the tournament until the winning Massachusetts team is crowned to represent the state nationally. This tournament is run by the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Mock trial students, led by advisor Philip Balkus, work to simulate a real trial with roles including witnesses and attorneys on both the prosecution and the defense. A new case is created each year, and they spend months studying the details and scrimmaging other teams to prepare for matches. The team meets weekly to work on their presentations, memorize their statements, and think of new angles to use against their opponents. Real attorney Julie Corcoran comes to advise the group with professional tips. 

The team begins practices in November, but their real matches occur in January. A typical match includes opening and closing statements, going over evidence, examining and cross examining witnesses on both sides. Teams earn points in different categories, and matches are made as realistic as possible: students dress professionally and compete at courthouses with local attorneys judging. 

Many join the team to gain experience in the law field, to learn how a courtroom works or to simply improve their confidence and speaking ability in a competitive environment. Since the group was founded 17 years ago, it has gained popularity and attracts many new members. 

“I joined my freshman year because I really loved true crime, and I have had my sights set on going to law school since I was young. I enjoy it because when it comes time for the actual trials, I get such a rush because I can see our hard work paying off. I have grown to love courtroom proceedings, and the way the trials play out are so fascinating to me. Although there is so much extensive preparation, it is always worth it when it comes time to compete,” senior Abby Malone said.

Going forward, the team hopes to continue their success and perform their best in the playoffs. They will compete next on March 1 at Clark University in Worcester. 

“I am confident that the team will try our best, and I am so thankful at how far we have come. I hope that we can keep practicing hard until that tournament and hopefully win one, if not both matches that day and advance further” Malone said.