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Posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Mock trial teams from Community and Ypsilanti high schools compete at state finals

By Kody Klein

Three mock trial teams from Community High School and Ypsilanti High School are heading to Lansing on Saturday to compete in the state finals for Michigan Center for Civic Education's high school mock trial tournament.

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The CHS team was allowed to practice at Washtenaw County Trial Court in Judge Archie Brown's courtroom in preparation for state finals.

Kody Klein I

The teams are advancing after their success at the Ann Arbor regional tournament on March 2, where 13 teams competed. The CHS A-team placed first and the Ypsilanti A and B teams placed third and second, respectively. At finals, they will face seven other teams that advanced from the regional tournaments in Grand Rapids and Pontiac.

"We’ve been doing practices nonstop since the regional tournament," said Loretta Tracy, executive director of University of Michigan's student-led Future Advocates In Training, which provides student coaches to the Ypsilanti teams. "Everybody’s working really hard."

Mock trial is a multidisciplinary activity, incorporating elements of law with improvisatory theater. Each year, MICIVIC releases a new case that teams must study and act out. Students exercise legal procedure as they assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses, conducting a realistic trial with one team acting as defense and one acting as prosecution.

"I’m a lawyer for both sides so I have to argue with myself all of the time," said Julia Karr, a senior at CHS.

This year's trial is a defamation of character lawsuit wherein a high school student sues a rival school for publicly accusing the student of cheating during a mock trial competition.

Despite that the case is the same for each trial, each team approaches it differently.

"Every time you see a trial, it’s a new thing," said Chloe Root, who teaches at CHS and coaches the mock trial team. "They’re trying new things every time to try to throw the other team off their game."

Of the 10 teams competing at state, only one will proceed to the national tournament on May 9 in Indianapolis. CHS teams have won six times since 1995, including the past three years.

"It’s a little bittersweet that it’s my last tournament," said Karr, who has been participating in mock trial since her freshman year.

Root said she's excited for her team to compete against the Ypsilanti teams.

"They’re both really good," she said. "They’ve got a lot of acting stuff down in a way that a lot of teams don’t."

Tracy said FAIT has supported the Ypsilanti teams for four years, during which time one team has made it to the state finals.

"I think we’re all really excited," she said. "It’s good to know that all of the kids made it."

FAIT organizes U-M law students to coach the Ypsilanti teams, helps fund the teams, and even runs a clothing drive at U-M to help provide the students with professional clothing.

"We’re trying to attract kids who might not have thought of mock trial as an activity that they would be able to participate in," Tracy said.

Kody Klein can be reached at



Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 2:34 a.m.

Oops! Somehow, "unrecognized and unappreciated" got torn apart, and "unrecognized" showed up instead, inexplicably, after, "thanks again, Bob," where I deleted it. Leaving my O.P. above sounding stupid. Sure wish you could go back and edit your comments here at


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 2:29 a.m.

While the nameplate on the bench reads Archie Brown, let's give a shout-out to the "real" judge pictured, Ann Arbor Senior Assistant City Attorney (I think I got that right) Robert West. Bobbie (as we called him back at Slauson, in the mid-60s) has donated countless hours of his time to this cause, and should not go and unappreciated. Anybody know how long Bob has been doing this? Ten years? More? Anyway, thanks again, Bob. The program cold not possibly be what it is today without the tireless help of folks like you.

Meredith Schindler

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

Fingers crossed for Ypsi A and B - they're good! Thanks for this story!


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

Two teams from Ypsi! Good luck tomorrow!