As Eliot Geer’s confidence level rose during practice for the mock trial state tournament, he was ready to put his attorney skills into action.
From March 10-12, members of the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) team maroon participated in the virtual competition and Geer emerged victorious by notching the best attorney award in the state.
Geer, a junior, said he initially felt nervous, but the levels of stress gradually washed away as he stepped to the forefront to help tackle the fictional lawsuit case involving an influential mountain biker who was injured while attempting a risky trick at a ski resort. The attorneys and witnesses ensconced themselves in four rounds of arguing the plaintiff and defense sides of the case: Was the biker at fault for taking the trick too far or was the resort’s recreation area not in good enough condition for bikers to safely spin their wheels?
“The idea is the case is supposed to be balanced and you’re always looking for a competitive advantage,” said MIHS volunteer coach Carol Schapira, a retired former King County Superior Court judge.
Overall, the MIHS team finished ninth at the 2022 WA YMCA state tournament, which featured the 24 teams that advanced past the 50-team regional event.
“What I like about the mock trial program is that it really forces you to look at both sides, whether you’re plaintiff or defense. You need to look at both sides to come up with your strategy,” said MIHS adviser/coach Eunyoung Kim, adding that participants have to thrive in the training, public speaking, analytical and theatrical realms to reap success.
Kim brings her 12 years of experience in the courts system as a certified interpreter for the Korean language to the MIHS squad, which features 28 members split into two teams. Both squads competed at regionals and one advanced to state.
At regionals, MIHS senior Alden Hey won the best attorney award and he was an outstanding attorney nominee at state along with Islander juniors Brielle Gradeck and Geoffrey Goffman. Also at state, MIHS juniors Brandon Bienstock and Gracie Hennessy and senior Divya Krishnaswamy were outstanding witness nominees.
Hey, who’s interested in participating in college mock trial and perhaps attending law school in the future, felt his closing argument at regionals was spot-on.
“I think what I did well there was I really adapted to the trial and I saw what arguments came out and specifically what legal arguments were being used by each side,” said the captain. “I was able to make a closing speech that I think felt relevant to the trial that had happened and didn’t feel scripted.”
Maggie Matheson, also a senior captain who’s been on the team for four years, said that through her mock trial experience she’s learned to collaborate with others from all grade levels and improve her public speaking skills.
When she first came to mock trial with a friend, she said, “It just seemed interesting that you would kind of think about this legal case and spend all this time preparing.”