On 20th October 2011 Dalriada’s Bar Mock Trial Team jetted off to New York to compete in the 5th annual Empire City Invitational; the World Championships of Mock Trial. This was a momentous occasion for the team, being the first Northern Irish School to ever compete at this level.
The competition lasted four days, from Thursday to Sunday. The Welcome Ceremony was held on Friday morning and was an experience in itself. Each of the 34 schools taking part were introduced and the National Anthems of each of the 6 countries represented were then played. The team members were very aware of how much of an honour it was to have been awarded a place at this International competition. The ceremony highlighted how prestigious the event was and it really was something that we will never forget.
The first round was held on Friday afternoon. The Defence were first to compete: consisting of Carla Hunter, Naomi Lee, Simon Hunter, Sarah McQuillan, Catherine Wallace and Meghan Christie. Dalriada were challenged by Glenwood Springs High School, Colorado, the top team in the division. Despite the obvious disadvantage in competing against an American team, the defence performed extremely well, with one judge saying that he was “really, really impressed.” Both witnesses and attorneys did a great job, and one judge even remarked that the “witnesses turned the tables on the opposing attorneys”. This was a great start to the competition, and gave everyone a real sense of enthusiasm for the following day and the rounds still to come.
It was an early start for the team on Saturday morning, with the Plaintiff (prosecution) of Christy Gregg, Alison Robinson, Zoe Rodgers, Niall Adams, Lee Hanna and Naomi Lee ready to enter court at 10am. In Round Two they were up against Eureka Secondary School, the reigning Irish Champions. This did not phase the Plaintiff side and they went on to win the round, with one judge simply saying that the team’s performance was “wonderful”. After lunch the team then proceeded to Round Three, which meant it was time for the Defence to perform once more. This time the team was up against a local New York school, Tottenville High School. The Defence held their own and demonstrated a high level of skill against their opponents.
It was not until the next day that the Plaintiff had the opportunity to compete again, with Round Four beginning at 9.30 on Sunday morning. This time the Plaintiff faced another American school, Bishop Guertin High School from New Hampshire. This round was equally as impressive as the previous rounds, and both witnesses and attorneys put their case across strongly. After three long hours of Direct Examinations, Cross Examinations and Speeches, Dalriada once again emerged victorious.
It wasn’t all hard work! On Saturday night the majority of the teams enjoyed a cruise of Lower Manhattan, and were lucky enough to see the New York sky line and the Statue of Liberty at very close proximity! This was a great chance for the group to meet people from the other teams, with everyone thoroughly enjoying the evening. Once the 4th round had ended and the competition had drawn to a close, the team walked across the Brooklyn Bridge towards Ground Zero. Later that evening we travelled to Times Square, however the final day was spent on Fifth Avenue. The day started with a visit to the very top of the Empire State Building, which was then followed by some shopping, because, after all, who could go to New York and not visit Tiffany’s?!
The Competition itself was a major challenge as pupils had to learn about American trial advocacy. This certainly gave the team the feeling of being the underdogs on the first day. Once we had the opportunity to compete, we soon realised that we were every bit as talented as our American counterparts! This was confirmed when Naomi Lee was awarded 3rd place (out of 198) in the award for Best Witness, and Christy Gregg was ranked one of the Best Attorneys of the whole competition. As if this wasn’t enough, the team were the only International team to win awards and were also recognised as the best International team of the competition.
To have been able to travel to New York, compete at such a high level, and be recognised as one of the best teams present at the World Championships was such a fantastic achievement for the team and our school.