Students beat dozens of other teams at regional contests

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Emily Korte, junior, presents the prosecutions case at a rehearsal.Lakeridge High School’s mock trial program went from almost vanishing two years ago to this year being a 30-student group and an academic course with a team of state competition contenders.

Lakeridge was among 14 schools and educational organizations to have teams that advanced to the State Mock Trial Competition last week. More than 70 high school teams vied for a place in state at regional competitions held earlier this month throughout Oregon. Teams of eight to 18 students argued a case before three-judge panels composed of attorneys, educators and other community members. The top teams in the state tourney headed to REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Leah Elliott, senior, testifies as a witness during the recent rehearsal.

The Pacers didn’t place at the state tournament — one of West Linn High’s two teams earned first and West Salem teams snagged second and third — but Lakeridge students said participating helped them develop some crucial skills.

Nonprofit Classroom Law Project offers the program, saying on its website that mock trial hones students’ self-confidence, public speaking, interpersonal and critical analysis skills.

“This is my third year doing mock trial, and I’m very glad I participated in it in high school,” Lakeridge senior Anisha Adke said. “It’s definitely helped me develop as a speaker, and I’ll carry the skills I learned with REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Charlie Levin, senior, delivers the defense team's opening statement during a mock trial rehearsal.

Charlie Levin, a senior, said a key aspect of mock trial is working together.

“A lot of it is about trusting each other,” Levin said.

His brother, sophomore Sam Levin, also is on the team, and he said mock trial members delve into legal rules.

“It’s a lot about taking the minute details and building them into a big, overarching idea,” Sam Levin REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Attorney Matt Levin is one of the Lakeridge mock trial teams coaches.

The Levin brothers’ father, attorney Matt Levin, is one of the team’s coaches. Before Lakeridge students competed at state in the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland, Matt Levin took them on a field trip there, and they had a rehearsal. He also has been known to take them out for ice cream. The Lake Oswego School Board’s decision to allow mock trial to operate as a course this year instead of a club, has allowed more opportunities, Matt Levin said.

“We get to talk more about theory and what are the underpinnings of what you’re really trying to do” when you’re handling a case, he said.

By Jillian Daley
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