A team of Apple Valley High School students finished runner-up at the mock trial state tournament in March. Their performance qualified Apple Valley for the National Tournament of Champions which will be held virtually May 22-23.
This is the third straight year that Apple Valley finished in the top two at state. They were state champions in 2019 and finished runner-up in the last two state tournaments. Eastview High School also qualified to participate in this year’s state tournament.
Members of the Apple Valley team are Emily Bauer, Julia Congdon, Jacob Dereje, Taylor Garrison, Maya Gort, Adam Hahn, Jordan Quintin and Alexis Buresh. Congdon and Bauer both received all-state honors. Students who served as alternates for Apple Valley at the state tournament are Cirine Benahsaine, Paige Peterson, Maximillian Giammona, Xander Vogel and Lindsay Maxfield. The team is coached by Jeanie Zurales, Becca Strauss and Eric Strauss, a 2006 graduate of Apple Valley who participated in mock trial as a student.
“This season was especially challenging because all of our trials were held virtually over Zoom,” Strauss said. “Not only did the students need to learn the case materials inside and out, but they also had to navigate the technology.”
In mock trail, each team consists of three attorneys and three witnesses, and must be prepared to argue both sides of the case. Apple Valley argued the defense in its championship match against Eagle Ridge High School. The teams give opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments. Students must also know a simplified version of the Federal Rules of Evidence in order to make and respond to objections. The competitions are judged by practicing attorneys and judges, who award points for each part of the mock trial.
All teams receive the same case, which is used throughout the season. Strauss said this year’s case, a breach of contract resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, explored a new area of law. The case consisted of about 80 pages of materials, including six witness statements and five exhibits.