Four Centerville mock trial teams qualify for regionals

Centerville fielded four teams in the annual Dayton Bar Association High School Mock Trial District Competition, held at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas last week, and for the first time in the program’s 37-year history, all four teams advanced to regional competition.

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Mock trial is a competition where high school students are provided with fictional affidavits and a criminal charge, and are then responsible for portraying witnesses as well as developing the legal theories to advocate in a trial judged by actual judges and lawyers.

Zach Heck, an attorney for the Dayton-based firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, is in his 13th year as coach for Centerville. This year, a record 26 students participated in the mock trial program.

He said his team will now prepare for the regional competition on Friday, Feb. 7.

Student Yazmin Soulati earned a best attorney award representing the plaintiff in one trial, and a best witness award for portraying the principal in the second trial, where she was cross examined for nearly 85% of the time allotted for cross examination of all defense witnesses.

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“I would also note that Stephnie Obetta won a best attorney award against CJ, where she defeated a team that had defeated her team last season,” Heck said. “Jacob Beaver won a best witness award in that trial by thinking on his feet under intense cross examination.”

Amrita Saini and Mina Nassar, two freshmen in their first year of mock trial ever, won against Shawnee High School where Amrita won best attorney, according to Heck.

“It’s note worthy given their youth and inexperience with mock trial that we usually do not see that incredibly high level of performance and victory,” he said.

Soulati, 18, a senior captain on the team, said she was nervous at district competition because it’s single elimination, but felt confident that Centerville would advance to regionals.

“My team is strong and we worked really hard,” Soulati said, adding that being a part of the mock trial team has helped her gain a unique set of skills that will be beneficial academically and in everyday life. “I’ve had the chance to gain so many skills and at a minimum learn about teamwork. I am also excited that all four teams are going to regionals.”

Saini, 14, said she’s thrilled to be headed to the regionals as a freshman.

“We were really well prepared,” Saini said. “Going to the regionals as a freshman is awesome.”

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