Oklahoma Bar Journal

Mock Trial: A Competition of Constructive Madness in March

By Kevin H. Cunningham

On Tuesday evening, March 6, in the Bell Courtroom at the OU College of Law, a particularly impressive performance occurred between two competitive teams with the winner being determined in court, rather than on the court. The Oklahoma High School Mock Trial 2018 Finals was won by Owasso, after defeating Owasso. For the first time in competition history, the final two teams were from the same school. Owasso’s Audrey Cantrell team prevailed and will represent the state of Oklahoma at the National High School Mock Trial Competition this May in Reno, Nevada.

The competition this year involved more than 40 teams from across the entire state. The fact that Owasso High School had two teams in the finals is a testament to the level of skill possessed by those student-competitors and the level of dedication from their teachers, attorney-coaches, parents and other volunteers associated with the team. This program would not function without the work of many volunteers. Over 400 judges and attorneys donate time to work with mock trial teams directly, to score and judge the teams throughout the competition and as members of the Mock Trial Committee, to plan, prepare, write, conduct and oversee the competition. Personally, I want to thank the hundreds of volunteers who help with the mock trial competition each and every year.

Presiding judge for the final round was Retired Judge Edward Cunningham. Scoring panelists were Justice Patrick Wyrick, a former high school mock trial competitor, Judge Sarah Hall, Judge David Lewis, Judge Jequita Napoli and Judge Shon Erwin. Each of the scoring panelists is a current sitting judge and the panel, collectively, possesses decades of experience and involvement with the mock trial program. Very few practicing attorneys will ever face a judicial panel of such experience and skill. The fact that high school students stood before this group of jurists and delivered their performances exemplifies how the life-long skills and talents attained through mock trial competition can be developed relatively early in life.

In Justice Wyrick’s own words, “The mock trial program made an enormous impact on me as a high school student, so it was especially rewarding to me to get to serve as a judge and see a new generation of students in action.”

I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the entire panel and the presiding judge for their work this year.

As with most competitions, the competitors are the primary focus, and this program was no different. The students involved in this competition were impressive. The professionalism displayed at all levels of the program, culminating at the finals, was on par with what we see from the best practicing attorneys throughout the courtrooms of our state. At times, those of us not directly involved with the students have to remind ourselves that these competitors have not yet taken a first-year law school class, or even a freshman-level undergraduate class! The attorneys in this case, looked, sounded and acted like seasoned litigators. Objections were raised and argued, with specific citations to rules of evidence, with professional accuracy.

The opening and closing arguments were presented with clear and persuasive narration. The witnesses delivered testimony better than many people who take the witness stand at trial. The ability to effectively respond to cross-examination can often be the tipping point between a particular witness being believed or not. The students that portrayed witnesses in the finals were some of the best to take the witness chair.

Even though this March competition did not involve any buzzer-beating half-court shots, there was plenty of in-court drama as the competitors sought the win after weeks of competition and months of preparation. The state of Oklahoma will be represented quite well by the students from Owasso Audrey Cantrell. Their portrayals of professional litigators and witnesses were effective, persuasive and compelling. Thank you to the Owasso High School Audrey Cantrell team, teachers, coaches, parents and volunteers. You represent the best of our state, and I look forward to your competition at nationals.

Finally, this competition could not exist without significant help from the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. The foundation has been a steadfast supporter since day one and the entire High School Mock Trial Program is supported by funds received from the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. I thank the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, and its members across this state, for their support of a program that unquestionably benefits so many people in our community. All former mock trial competitors know the value of the program first-hand. Whether your professional path included law or not, the skills and talents developed from participation provide a lifetime of benefit. To every mock trial competitor, past, present and future, your involvement makes this program the best it can be. Sincerely, thank you.

Kevin Cunningham practices in Mustang and serves as chairperson for the Oklahoma High School Mock Trial Committee.

Andrew Casey Anne Mize
Deresa Clark Todd Murray
Dustin Compton Michael Nesser
Dan Couch Melissa Peros
Kevin Cunningham Nathan Richter
Lydia Fields Susie Summers
Dillon Langley Chris Szlichta
Patrick Layden Leah Terrill-Nessmith
April McClure Carolyn Thompson
Andrea Medley Kathryn Walker


Ranada Adams Chris Jones
Clifton Baker Judge Douglas Kirkley
Eli Bland Nicole Longwell
Judge James Bland Blake Lynch
Judge Daman Cantrell Tom Maxcey
Eric Cavett Brian McLaughlin
Stephana Colbert Judge Tim Mills
Angie Dean Anthony Moore
Chance Deaton Rob Neal
Judge Deirdre Dexter Ellen Quinton
Eddie Forarer Rob Ridenour
Valery Giebel Adam Scharn
Randy Gill Judge Matt Sheets
Eric Grantham Desmond Sides
Celo Harrel David Smith
Terry Harrison Connie Smothermon
Clint Hastings Richard Smothermon
Clifford Heckert Bob Speed
Shane Henry Frank Stout
William Hickman Laura A. Thomas
Andrew Hofland Carolyn Thompson
Mike Horn Ken Underwood
Michon Hughes Kyle Wasson
Linda Jaha Judge Jill Weedon
Aaron Johnson


Patrick Abitbol** Stephen Haynes Ted Pepper
Stacy Acord Rick Henthorn David Poarch
Kim Adams Judge Hess Carolyn Pomberg
Emma Arnett Kurt Hoffman** Sonja Porter
Kara Bacon Madison Holder Paiten Qualls
B.J. Baker Chad Horsha Jasmin Redd
Matthew Ballard Craig Hoster Rob Redwine
Luke Barteaux Trevor Hughes Ryan Reeves*
Susan Beaty Judge Lori Jackson Greg Reilly
Kristina Bell Dalinda Jeffers Maxey Reilly*
Andrew Benedict Jo Lynn Jetter Dale Rex
Lewis Berkowitz Brittney Jewett Jacqueline Rhodes**
Lou Berkowitz Erik Johnson Greg Riley
Howard Berkson**** Courtney Jordan Alison Roberts
Brandon Bidde Reign Karpe Thomas Robertson*
Larry Biddolph David Keglovits Charles Rogers
Kelly Bishop* William Kellough Jacob Rowe
Jack Bowyer Deanna Kelso Hilary Sadhoo
Ruseal Brewer Jennifer Kerns Teri Sahs
Elisabeth Brown Kaye Kirk Jenny Sanbrano*
Libby Brown Lita Kirk Mark Schwebke*****
Alyssa Campbell Lindsay Kistler Gessica Sewell
Abby Carmine Rick Knighton Randall Sewell
Dietmar Caudle Julie Landes Micah Sexton
Jason Christopher** Kent Larason Matt Sheets
Jack Coppedge*** Trent Lauridson Shelby Shelton
Michael Coulson Niki Lindsey Chelsea Shields***
John Cramer Grant Lloyd Chris Shields
Kymberly Cravatt Rand Long Carmelita Shinn
Dan Crawford**** Randy Long Judge Steven Shreder
Judge Ed Cunningham**** Mark Lyons Kim Slinkard
Erin Dailey Robert Margo Angela Smith
Chance Deaton Amber Masters Jared Smith
Michael Denton Kevyn Mattax* Karen Smith
Mike Dial J. W. McBee* Rusty Smith
Charles Dickson April McClure Toni Smith
Monica Dionisio Shelly McCorkle Jeanne Snider
Susan Dobbins* Kassie McCoy Beth Stanley
Joshua Edwards Hilary McKinney Luke Stephens
Tony Edwards Paige McLaughlin Joshua Stockton
Kathleen Egan Evan McLemore Orion Strand**
Judge Shon Erwin*** Andrew McMahon Jim Stuart
Greg Farrar*** Law McMeans* Chuck Sullivan
Rachel Farrar Jan Meadows Thomas Swafford II
Alayna Farris Julia Metry Brian Swenson***
Rodney Ferguson Paul Middleton Scott Thomas
Craig Fitzgerald Jennifer Miller Carolyn Thompson*
Marna Franklin Mike Miller Joe Trail*
Matt Frisby Sam Miller Renee Troxell
Mykel Fry Tony Morales Roy Tucker
Ryan Fulda Scott Mosteller Scott Tully
Mitchell Garrett Michael Mullins* Jonathan Udoka
Debra Gee Judge Jequita Napoli Georgina Van Tuyl**
Rachel Gessouroun Drew Neville Laina Vaughn
Amy Gioletti Brenda Nipp Kyle Vazquez
Jason Glidewell Tahlina Nofire Jon Vittitow
Scott Goode Paul Northcutt Keith Ward
Stephen Gray** Brandi Nowakowski Laura Wardrip
Mark Graziano Katie Ogden Mark Warman****
David Guten**** L. Earl Ogletree Richard Warzynski
Deb Hackler Ivan Orndorff Jr.*** Weston Watts
Matthew Haire Jessica Ortiz Sabre Weathers
Alex Handley*** Jenna Owens Zack West
Keenan Haught Matt Patterson Matthew Wheatley
Rick Hawthorn Kathleen Pence* Ed White
Michael Wilson Alex Wilson
*two rounds
**three rounds
***four rounds
****five rounds

*****six rounds

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 89 pg. 52 (April 2018)