Owasso High School Crowned Mock Trial State Champion
March 10, 2023
Owasso High School’s Team Elle edged out Jenks High School’s Team Justice for All to claim the Oklahoma High School Mock Trial Championship. Owasso High School has won the state championship five of the last six years.
The Mock Trial program, now in its 43rd year, involves teams of students portraying attorneys and defendants in a courtroom setting, with judges and attorneys evaluating their performance. The final round of competition was held Tuesday, March 7, at the Page Belcher Federal Building in Tulsa. The case the two teams argued was a fictional criminal trial in which drivers in Wheatville, Oklahoma, were terrorized for months by “The Freeway Menace,” who threw objects and shot at passing vehicles. After being arrested due to a tip from a witness, they admitted to 26 incidents of throwing objects or shooting at cars and faced multiple charges. The primary issue in this case was that the defendant, who had been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, had raised an insanity defense to their charges.
“The Mock Trial competition has grown and now appeals to high school students who are interested in drama, debate, public speaking, art and journalism,” OBA Mock Trial Committee Chair Jennifer Bruner Soltani said. “This competition gives students a unique opportunity to develop public speaking, presentation and critical thinking skills in a trial format but also offers courtroom artist and journalist components. The experience is one of a kind for students, teachers and legal community volunteers.”
TEAMS, COACHES AND TEACHERS
The Owasso team was coached by Judge Daman Cantrell, attorney coaches Kaylind Baker and Ken Underwood, and teachers Terry Waller and Krya Schmidt. Team members were Parker Baskerville, Ava Brigman, Alyson Bushey, Lauren Hughes, Katelyn Wiehe and Anakin Wyrick.
The Jenks team was coached by attorneys Jacob Downs, Michael Horn, Morgan Medders, Stacy Accord and Jenny Proehl-Day and teachers Michael Horn, Danielle Henry and Dana Mackay. Team members were Cora Brown, Leah Brown, Alyssa Engle, Ann Gao, Elaine Gao, Satchel Grider, Sara Moreno, Samuel Meyers, Jacob Shaddock, Kimhoi Thang and Molly Thomas.
Other top finishers were:
- Third place, Jenks High School’s Team Clones
- Fourth, The Academy of Classical Christian Studies in Oklahoma City
- Fifth, Moore High School’s Team Varsity
- Sixth, Ada High School’s Team Varsity
- Seventh, Owasso High School’s Team Enrique
- Eighth, Jenks High School’s Team Mandalorians
Earning awards as best attorneys were Elaine Gao and Alyson Bushey, with Jacob Shaddock and Lauren Hughes winning best witness honors. Tru West, with Broken Arrow High School, won the best courtroom artist award, and Clinton High School’s Emily Stephens won the courtroom journalist award.
PRESIDING AND SCORING
Judge Shon Erwin served as presiding judge during the competition finals.
Scoring judges were:
- Judge Jane Wiseman
- Judge Stacie Hixon
- Mark Schwebke
- Dan Crawford
The judges evaluated the students based on their familiarity with the case and the formulation of their arguments. Students received points for each phase of the trial, opening, direct and cross-examination, closing argument and how well their witnesses responded. Teams were paired with volunteer attorney coaches.
The Mock Trial Program is sponsored and funded by the Oklahoma Bar Foundation and the Oklahoma Bar Association Young Lawyers Division with coordination by Judy Spencer. More than 300 judges and attorneys volunteered their time to work with mock trial teams as coaches and to conduct the competitions.
MOCK TRIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
- Jennifer Bruner Soltani
- Past Chair Todd Murray
- Andrea Medley
- Executive Chairperson Orion Strand
MOCK TRIAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
- Michael Nesser
- Shea Bracken
- Nathan Ritcher
- Gessica Sewell
- Christine Cave
- Andrew Casey
- Weston Watts, honorary Oklahoma City and Tulsa volunteer coordinator