A Future Reality Studying Legality

Mock trial members reflect on the 2023 season


Provided by Eiffel Sunga

On Feb. 9, the Bonita Vista High Mock Trial team competed in their first round of competition for the 2022-2023 school year. Junior and defense attorney Eliza Noblejas (left) and junior and defense witness Alexander Roman (right) practice their direct examination lines in front of the San Diego Central Courthouse, as the defense team waits for all the team members to arrive.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Bonita Vista High (BVH) Mock Trial team’s season officially came to an end at the San Diego Central Courthouse. After having spent months preparing for the four rounds of their competition season, the members of the team as well as their attorney coach have it all come together in dramatic fashion. 

The team prepared for the 2023 competition season with bi-weekly practices beginning in the first semester. However, as much as the practices helped the team prepare potential in-court responses, the nature of Mock Trial seemed to be a looming fear for many of the Mock Trial members, such as captain, defense attorney and junior Andrea Amador. Amador has been a part of Mock Trial 

“I didn’t know the level of difficulty other schools would bring on and I was definitely a little bit nervous but we’ve put in a lot of hours perfecting our work in the courtroom and it’s definitely showing,” Amador said. 

The feeling of slight nervousness at the beginning of the season was repeatedly mentioned by multiple members of the Mock Trial team. Some first year members noted their unease when it came to entering a program that they mistakenly viewed as prestigious. 

“I was a bit nervous mainly about the memorization aspect and I was nervous to just go into a courthouse where everyone knows what they’re doing, [because] it [is] my first year [joining],” defense attorney and junior Lyra Rhoades said. 

Despite the shared feeling of unease amongst most Mock Trial members at the beginning of the season, they felt better after competing. After Rhoades’ first round of competition, the pressure and nervousness that she had felt coming in was gone, replaced with a newfound enthusiasm.

“It was nerve-wracking going into it, but now that I’ve actually done it, it’s less scary and more fun. After the first round, I’ve been looking forward to it. I counted down the days because I was excited,” said Rhoades. 

A big factor growing the confidence of the team was their overall improvement throughout the rounds of the season. With each round, they gained momentum and with the help of some feedback from the judges, improved their overall arguments. First year defense witness and junior Alex Roman felt as though watching the team’s improvement throughout the competition was an amusing experience.

“We’ve improved between our first round and our second round and it was fun to see all of us combine together, get the feedback, put it in our minds and improve with that,” Roman said. 

In their second round of the season, Roman’s performance as a witness landed them the MVP title for the night. Roman feels this was the highlight of their season.

“I felt really good about my direct examination and my cross examination in that round, because when I was given feedback by the attorney scorers. One of them told me that I had balance, maintained good eye contact and acted natural,” said Roman.

While Roman felt that receiving their MVP award was a great moment, it was far from the only highlight of the season. Amador explains that impeaching an opposing school’s witness was one of her proudest moments. In order to impeach a witness, an acting attorney must prove why the witness in question is unfit to stay on the stand, the most common reason for which being the witness acting out of their assigned character.

“When you get them caught not knowing their fact patterns it’s definitely an incredible moment because it’s not going to happen for every school and it might not happen for any of the schools,” said Amador.

While members of the team are proud of their accomplishments and growth throughout the competition, Mock Trial attorney coach of six years Jason Conge is just as proud. He was glad to be able to be there for this team as they were extremely dedicated and interested. 

[The team] exceeded my expectations. I try to hold them all to a high standard and every year including this year they’ve really gone above and beyond.

— Mock Trial Attorney Coach Jason Conge

“[The team] exceeded my expectations. I try to hold them all to a high standard and every year including this year they’ve really gone above and beyond. I’ve been very happy with this group,” Conge said.

When questioned about what made this year’s Mock Trial team different from the others of past years, Conge mentioned his appreciation for the team’s thriving chemistry. 

“This year, one of the things that I really admire about them [the team] is everybody got along so well and worked really well with one another,” said Conge.

Conge, who works as a public defender for San Diego when he’s not coaching BVH’s mock trial team, earned the respect of many of his students for pursuing the career that the great majority of them wish to pursue as well. Rhoades, Roman and Amador all mentioned Conge’s name and impact on their Mock Trial experience. 

“I love Jason. He’s positive and so uplifting. He’s an attorney for a living, [but] the fact that he dedicates so much of his time to high schoolers that want to pursue the same career that he’s in is a really kind thing for him to do,” said Rhoades.

Conge had been a member of the Mock Trial team when he was in high school, allowing him to understand the Mock Trial’s team desire to succeed. Along with the work and time he dedicates to Mock Trial, he is able to rely on the diligence of his students. 

“I try to do the best that I can and give them the time and attention that they deserve. Many of these students are very bright, frankly, much brighter and harder working than I was back in high school,” Conge said.

Conge mentioned how the departure of this year’s senior class will be an emotional experience for him. For example, captain and senior Eiffel Sunga, who’s been in mock trial for all four years of her high school career.

“Eiffel has been on the team since she was a freshman and aside from being brilliant, kind and hard working. It’s been a real privilege having her coach and act as the captain and she’s an amazing advocate,” Conge said.

Though the seniors of Mock Trial will be thoroughly missed, Amador, Rhoades and Conge are completely confident in the teams’ progression and performance for the years to come. They will continue to use the teachings of the seniors and carry their legacy forward. 

“We’re going to do very good [next year] because these kids [are in] their first year [and] are presenting themselves in such a professional manner. We’re going to have an incredible year next year with their help teaching,” Amador said.