Rhinelander Mock Trial team wins regional title, prepares for state
The Rhinelander High School Mock Trial team participated in the Wausau Regional Tournament sponsored by the Wisconsin State Bar Association on Feb. 6-7, 2021. Upon winning all four rounds, the team walked away as the Wausau Regional Champions.
Rhinelander was one of eight teams that competed in the regional tournament, which transitioned to a virtual Zoom platform this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team was faced with several obstacles this season. First, more than half of the students this season were new to the mock trial program, which meant that a more extensive amount of time and energy had to be devoted to the logistics of preparing for a criminal trial and the development of an understanding of the rules of evidence.
Moreover, given this year’s small team size, every student was assigned two roles, where in the past, most students are typically only responsible for one role as an attorney or witness. Second, the students were required to adjust to Zoom court proceedings, where in the past, the regional tournament was held in-person at the Marathon County Courthouse.
The mock trial program provides high school students with an opportunity to act as attorneys and witnesses in a fictional court case developed by the State Bar of Wisconsin. This year, the students were presented with a criminal case involving a defendant charged with first-degree intentional homicide. The fact pattern involved a set of identical twins, one of whom was charged with the other twin’s murder upon discovering that they had allegedly infected their mother with COVID-19.
The mock trial team is coached by local attorney Ali Francois. The team will proceed to the state competition March 6-7, which will also be held via the Zoom platform.