By Allison Li and Celine Wang
Though the courthouses have shut down due to COVID-19, the show must go on virtually — Mock Trial being no exception. In Mock Trial, students take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses and act as characters in a case given to them by the New York State Bar Association. During the 2020-2021 Mock Trial Season, all competitions were held virtually over Zoom.
The case this year is titled Macca Elery McLaughlin v. Lee and Robbie McLaughlin. Ross Mantsurov this year plays the dramatic diva, Macca, burnt out teen singer who is suing his parents, Lee and Robbie McLaughlin, for breaching their fiduciary duty and causing him gross economic damage. Ryan Chou takes on the role of a passionate musician, Stevie Styx, who led Macca to his early success in winning competitions. And the financial analyst Robin Ravin, played by Luke Seplaki in his mock trial debut, testifies to the inherent riskiness of investing in Initial Public Offerings, thus demonstrating that Robbie McLaughlin failed his responsibility to consider all the risks before investing Macca’s money.
Given the limited members of the team, Ross has the hard task of playing two key witnesses this year, and is technically also playing Robbie McLaughlin, the misled parent who claims that he has always acted in the best interest interest of Macca and only wanted to help her grow her wealth (if you’ve been following along, this mean Ross is technically suing himself). Claudia Lewis stars as stubborn grunge-fanatic Tony Triacon, Macca’s manager (who has questionable qualifications in the entrepreneurial field) who was hired to help Macca’s career grow in the promotional aspect. Finally, Anna Lin plays the role of Andy Anderson, the McLaughlin’s financial advisor who assures Robbie that investing his money into an IPO is “a sure bet”.
A tougher aspect of participating in Mock Trial this year is that while normally a full team has twelve members, the East team only has eight, forcing many members to double up with two witness roles or two attorney roles. As mentioned previously, Ross Mantsurov has two major witness roles, and additionally, Anna Lin has the role of attorney and witness. Benjamin Terharr also returned to the courts this year (both the basketball and legal ones) as an attorney for his senior year. Allison Li and Celine Wang also doubled up as attorneys for both sides, meaning they had to develop reasoning and lines of questioning to support and argue both sides of the case. Trials began with opening statements from Allison Li and Anna Lin, giving a strong first impression and intimidating opposing counsel. For both trials, to wrap up the case and hammer in the final points, Celine Wang blew judges away through the delivery of her powerful summation!
The wonderful Mr. Powalowski we know and love is the club advisor for Mock trial, and Mr. Dave Marcus continued his guidance as our attorney advisor despite the virtual setup. The team would like to give both of them a special thank you for their instruction, as well as to Williamsville East alumnus Nina Raj for providing extra emotional support and illuminative guidance this year.
The East Mock Trial team goes undefeated so far, with victories against Canisius and Bennett. Despite the member shortage and difficult virtual environment, we highly anticipate the results of future trials and we wish the entire team good luck in the next rounds of competition that begin in March!