Mock Trial team wraps up season after making it to semifinal competition


Benjamin Babayev

The mock trial team captains.

HTML tutorial

This year’s Mock Trial team went up against and beat multiple schools in simulated court trials hosted by the New York State Bar Association. Under the leadership of captains Benjamin Babayev (Classic Features Editor), Gabriella Fusco, Elliot Heath (Classic Editor-In-Chief), and Emily Li, the Mock Trial team made it further than they have in years, advancing to the New York semifinals and becoming one of the top four schools out of the 84 initially competing. 

Mock Trial is a law-based academic team that operates during the Winter and Spring Seasons. Divided into two separate competing divisions of six, Plaintiff and Defense, team members simulate a trial and assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses to compete. Like its sister team (THHS Moot Court), the team is partnered with the global law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where they meet with lawyers at least twice a week to be trained. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first year that Mock Trial competitions were held fully in person since 2019. When asked about this transition, Gabriella said, “Although it was tough originally figuring out the logistics and everything, I was super excited for the team to practice in person again at Katten.”

Reflecting on their successes this past season, Benjamin said, “I think a major reason the team was able to come so far this season is our persistent efforts to practice but also our efforts to have fun as a team. This year, a goal of the captains was to try to bond with the Mock Trial members not just as teammates but as friends.” He continued, “I think the personal connections we made allowed us to work together more cohesively.”

Juggling this responsibility while also dealing with the other burdens that come with being a senior was challenging for the captains. Emily said, “I was also leading a FON at the same time. But I have to give thanks to my co-captains for picking up my slack when I got really overwhelmed with everything.”

Similarly, Elliot said, “Since Mock Trial is an academic team, it takes priority quite a lot of the time because it is a team thing…I think time management is always a challenge—even in my senior year that’s something I’m adjusting to—but I do still try and keep very organized.”

In the quarterfinal round, the THHS Mock Trial team defeated the two-time city champion, High School of American Studies at Lehman College, winning by a margin of six points. “I was super proud of how well the Plaintiff performed against HSAS Lehman, who had always advanced much farther than our team in the past,” Gabriella said. “The competition ended up going very smoothly and all of us performed the best we ever had, which was a true moment where our hard work paid off.” 

Elliot said the moment he’s most proud of is one of the team members’ successes during the quarter-final match. He said that along with other captains, he “helped out a lot training this person, working with them, staying late on Zoom calls. I think this person really did improve their craft and became a lot more knowledgeable and skilled.” He continued, “I was proud to be a part of that, to know I helped with that. It was good to see my hard work and his hard work pay off in the quarterfinals.”

Junior Zara Islam, who played an attorney on the Plaintiff part of the team, enjoyed working with such hardworking captains this year. Zara said, “From the initial meeting, you could see how determined and dedicated each of them were to the team. They led the team with their hard work and planning, even when they had to attend to all their other senior year obligations. Undoubtedly, their commitment to the team pushed us through the season and motivated us to be just as determined.”

Junior Hasan Raza, who played a witness for the Defense side of the team, loved working with the captains this season. They helped him feel comfortable and learn quickly during his first year on the team. “Since this year was my first on the team, I felt intimidated at first by how much more experienced everyone around me was. However, I quickly understood the flow of things on the team and that was in no small thanks to the captains,” Hasan said.

History teacher and Mock Trial advisor Siobhan Brand said, “Working with the captains was wonderful. They were all so organized and attentive to important matters in a timely fashion. They showed strong leadership to the younger students on the team. The entire effort of the team was extremely important this year. They worked well together and supported each other in each round.”

Earlier today at their end-of-season party at the Katten firm, Benjamin, Gabriella, Elliot, and Emily officially announced the Mock Trial captains of the 2023-2024 year to be Zara, Jocelyn Jao, Julia Chang, and Carolina Corcuera. All current juniors, they will lead the team next year as seniors in hopes of future success.