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Cockrill Middle School Wins Again in Collin County Mock Trial, MISD Teams Claim Three of Top Four Spots

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

McKinney, Texas – Mock Trial is not for those with an aversion to hard work. Like their real-world counterparts, the eighth grade student attorneys who compete in Mock Trial put in a tremendous number of hours preparing their cases for the annual competition hosted by the Collin County Bar Association.

On February 15-16, that competition drew 30 middle school teams from McKinney ISD and neighboring districts to the Collin County Courthouse for two days of intensive legal sparring.

Teams that won in each round kept trying their cases until there were only two teams left and then, of course, one. By the end of the competition, the last team standing had presented their evidence and arguments five times, but unlike practicing attorneys, these Mock Trial lawyers had to be prepared to approach the case from the perspective of either a prosecutor or a defense attorney—and they didn’t know which it would be until moments before they entered the courtroom. By the end of the competition, they had argued each side more than once.

This year, the winning team was once again a group from Cockrill Middle School. After besting teams from neighboring districts in the preliminary rounds, Cockrill faced Dowell Middle School in the final, and with the win, brought home the top trophy for the second year in a row.

It was a great showing all around for MISD, with the district’s middle schools claiming three of the top four spots. Dowell placed second and Evans Middle School placed fourth.

“I am so proud of our Mock Trial teams,” said Dr. Amber Epperson, principal of Cockrill Middle School. “They put in hours of work with Mrs. Gray and our attorney mentors to prepare, and they have represented our school beautifully. It is wonderful to see them apply their learning in such a meaningful and memorable way and have the opportunity to represent MISD in such an exemplary fashion. We are already looking forward to next year.”

The cases in Mock Trial are not exactly “ripped from the headlines,” but they are inspired by actual litigation from Collin County courtrooms. Last year, the teams were presented with a civil personal injury case. This year it was a criminal murder case.

A Collin County judge presided over each trial round, and the final brought in two additional judges. Teams were made up of two attorneys, six witnesses and a time keeper, and recognition was awarded at the end of each round for the Best Attorney and Best Witness in that particular trial.

Cockrill Middle School
Champions (Second Consecutive Year)
Teacher—Sara Gray
Best Attorney Award Winner—Niloo Adib (Two Best Attorney Awards in preliminary rounds and Best Attorney for finals)
Best Witness Award Winner—Hayley Bruns

Dowell Middle School
Teacher—Lisa Noland
Best Attorney Award Winners—Jack Law, Blake Kump, Zach Puhala, Catelyn Washerlesky (Two Best Attorney Awards)
Best Witness Award Winners—Maggie Maple, Garrett Pratt (Two Best Witness Awards), Alex Dickson

Evans Middle School
Teacher—Patricia Beckham
Best Attorney Award Winners—Eloise Cope, Tessa Jones, Sammy Elhindi, Gaia Tuval
Best Witness Award Winners—Jack Boling, Haley Hester (Two Best Witness Awards), Ella Guthrie, Julia Payne

Faubion Middle School
Teacher — Kaylee Boysen
Best Attorney Award Winners— Regan Young (Two Best Attorney Awards), Ruhi Patel, Julia Oesterreicher
Best Witness Award Winners— Danny Scudder, Brian Hua

Scott Johnson Middle School
Teacher—Rachel Jenson
Best Attorney Award Winners—Nicole Golphin, Joseph Bennett
Best Witness Award Winners—Austin Troncalli

For competition at this level of complexity, teams must begin laying the groundwork far in advance—usually in late August.

“The students don’t know the case [when school starts]. We don’t know what the problem’s going to be,” said Cockrill GT ELAR teacher Sara Gray. “This year the case was released in early December, so the kids at least had that, but that doesn’t give them a lot of time to prepare. So you’re already working at the beginning of the school year to be ready, so that when the problem does arrive, they have some experience and background knowledge.”

Gray said that her teams begin each year by learning the basics of the trial process. “What happens during a typical trial? What are the objections? What is the legalese you’ll need to know?” said Gray.

Mentors play a big part in that effort.

“I have those fabulous attorneys from Abernathy that come and help us,” said Gray. “This is their third year to help us, and really, they come and teach law class. I mean, it really is. Mock Trial … focuses on all of those critical thinking, writing, speaking … all of those skills that really are building the whole student. And, the thing that I think is most beneficial for them is that the students have an opportunity to see an authentic purpose because they know that they’re competing with other schools. It’s so much better any time we can give students authentic audiences with a real purpose and something they are totally in control of.”

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If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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