Braintree High on a Mock Trial Roll
Braintree defeated Whitman-Hanson last week and Milton on Wednesday as part of an annual mock trial tournament.
In the realm of mock trial competition, Braintree High School junior Tory Sherlock, playing someone named Addie Bernson, had been wrongly accused of involuntary manslaughter by the state.
Bernson's alleged crime was stealing a stop sign at an intersection where a fatal accident later occured. Six lawyers represented different witnesses, two of whom – family friend Armani Gavirel (Abby Maclean) and Dr. Mary Devlin (Lucy McIntosh) – supported the assertion that Bernson wasn't near the intersection and that the missing sign was not the culprit.
"The students at Braintree created their own lines of questioning, the witnesses read over and memorized every crucial detail of the affidavit, and then have to testify in open court, answering the questions not only of their own lawyer but those of the opposing team as well," social studies teacher Jamie Wiggin said in an email.
Braintree cruised to victory in this trial on Feb. 8, defeating Whitman-Hanson Regional 100 to 82 and defending Bernson. On Wednesday, led by captains Michelle Chan and Matt Sigourney, the team bested Milton High School 88-85.
Each year the Massachusetts Bar Association invites schools to participate in a Mock Trial tournament, Wiggin said, providing them with case information and rules. Teams then prepare a defense or prosecution, with students as witnesses and lawyers.
In last week's match, "Not only did Braintree win in points regarding knowledge of the law and courtroom procedure but also in the [successful] verdict," Wiggin said, "The attorney presiding over the meet was also impressed by the students' respect for courtroom decorum and the opposing team."
Seniors Tom Snarsky, Dave Richardson, Kyle Tarbox, Ornela Xhor and Scott Chappel also helped guide Braintree to victory over Milton. For this case, the BHS team took on the prosecutors' role, attempting to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bernson took the sign and caused the accident.
The premise of this most recent case was that students at Olney High School organized a scavenger hunt, which included Eddie Bernson deciding to collect road signs.
"However, tragedy strikes the same night as an accident occurs at the intersection of Jan and Dean streets, killing two," Wiggin said. "Sgt. Don Beasley (played by Dave Richardson) investigates the scene of the accident and who may have taken the stop sign. He questions Pat Doherty (Justin Stidham), who may or may not be inebriated, who lives nearby and saw the immediate aftermath of the accident. His investigation also leads him to Sascha Berk (Abby Lucas), who gives him a copy of the scavenger hunt list."
Plenty of back-and-forth followed between witnesses, the defendant and experts. Wiggin said the packet containing the affadavits, exhibits and rules was more than 70 pages, and that Hingham District Court served as the setting against Milton. The competition's judge was a practicing attorney in Massachusetts.
Another similar program, "We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution," part of a nationwide round of mock Congressional hearings, was held at the high school in early January.