Guilty or Innocent? LHS Mock Trial

Sebastian Duarte looking over his case materials.

The exciting world of mock trial is filled with drama and twists and turns. Every year the mock trial team at LHS takes part in the Vincent J. Apruzzese competition. The team consists of, both, a defense and prosecution side. Each of which has two attorneys and three witnesses. They then have the task of either proving the lawsuit from the prosecution to be true or defending the innocence of the accused.

This year, the trial is about defamation and a character named Shea Simmons. Shea believes that due to defamatory statements made about him cheating at the mock trial finals, his scholarship was taken away. Interestingly, this years mock trial is about mock trial!

The team is coached by the joint leadership of Mr. Sera and Mr. Tuttle. These two know their stuff and work together to really prepare the team in practice everyday. The team had taken quite a hit when the seniors, who mostly made up last year’s team, graduated. However, freshmen Maecar Lagdaman, Kristel Danan, Cheyenne Ward, and Christian Asturias are all stepping up to the plate. Representing the witnesses as attorneys this year are Peter Aziz and Leonard Tan for the prosecution and Kyle Crouchelli and Sebastian Duarte for the defense.

Leonard Tan and Peter Aziz approaching the Judge’s bench.

The first trial, held on Jan. 11, was Lodi’s defense against Leonia’s prosecution. Duarte began the trial be delivering a powerful opening statement that would outline the defense’s entire case. As the witnesses were called from the other school, Crouchelli and Duarte gave them tough cross examinations where they uncovered the truth and broke down Leonia’s case. The testimonies given by the defense witnesses were stellar and far exceeded expectations. Crouchelli also delivered a meaningful and accurate closing statement. This mix of experience from the attorneys and new talent from the freshmen, ultimately, lead to Lodi High School’s victory over Leonia. This was not an only an accomplishment for the school but a personal one for Crouchelli and Duarte, who had lost this first round the previous year.


Christian Asturias, Maecar Lagdaman, and Kristel Danan sitting at the jury stand.

The second trial was held on Jan. 18 and it was Aziz and Tan’s turn to argue their case. They, with freshman witness Ward, faced off against Fairlawn. The first time around, the attorneys put up an impressive fight. Aziz directed Mrs. McBride, played by Ward and Shea Simmons, while Tan cross examined two of the opposing witnesses. They were on their A game and were even complimented on their awareness of the trial by the judges. Ward also did a great job as a witness. Sadly, Fairlawn managed to walk away with the win. However, the experience gained by Aziz, Tan, and all the other new members will surely take them further on next year and make them into stronger competitors.

As for the remainder of this season, the team is awaiting word on whether or not they will advance to the next round. Whatever the result may be, the mock trial team could rest easily knowing that they came as strong competitors and that they represented Lodi High School with dignity and integrity. The Rampage staff wishes the mock trial team the best of luck! If mock trial is of interest to you, please see Mr. Sera or Mr. Tuttle and get involved next school year!