Mock Trial is an opportunity to learn about techniques used by lawyers in the courtroom. Students take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses in mock civil and criminal legal issues. Participants gain experience and knowledge in areas including the stages of a trial, how to argue objections, and how to direct and cross examine a witness. Learning how to make a clear, confident and cohesive argument are lifetime skills. Equally important is the ability to analyze a case, decide what is important and what is not, and work in a small group or individually to accomplish a goal. The team has eight members. Some play a single role, while others serve more than one role. Tryouts are held each October. The team practices at least twice a week for two and a half hours outside of scheduled classroom time. When circuit and state competitions approach, the team meets three to five times a week. The mock trial team is mentored by local attorney Jim Delgado and veteran SSES social studies teacher Pat Murphy.
Saint Stephen’s has an outstanding circuit and state record. Since 1993, the Falcons have won the circuit competition all but three years. SSES has also represented Manatee, Sarasota, and Desoto counties successfully at the state level, placing in the top 10 each year, including two second-place finishes. In the past five years, the Saint Stephen’s team has been invited to the top national competition in New York. In 2016 the SSES Mock Trial team won the circuit 12 (Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto) competition, placed fourth in the state, and received recognition for the top student attorney, and best teacher/coach in the state.