Rye Neck High School’s Mock Trial team won the coveted Westchester County Championship title after outperforming Horace Greeley High School at the finals, held at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains on April 6. As a result, the team earned a spot to compete in the regional competition at Pace University School of Law on April 22.

For five weeks, the team – under the direction of Marcella Scalise, the Mock Trial team coach and a social studies teacher – battled it out in the courtroom as they argued either for the plaintiff or defense sides of a case at each trial and competed against students from 22 other schools. In this year’s case, Robin Berkman vs. the County of Dover, the defendant was wrongfully prosecuted for the attempted murder of a store clerk and robbery of a convenience store.

“Our students are a diligent and motivated group who have put in a lot of time and effort to truly learn the logistics of the law,” Scalise said. “My goal was to make sure they had a new perspective about the legal profession and respected the legal process. I truly believe they learned a lot about the legal profession and have respect for all of the time and hard work it takes.”

At each mock trial, lawyers from the Westchester County Bar Association judged the students on their opening statements, direct and cross-examinations, witness preparation and credibility, closing statements and professionalism.

“This is one of the most dedicated and hard working group of students I have ever seen and it has been a pleasure to work with them,” Scalise said. “I can confidently say that we are one of the most poised and professional teams in the entire competition. We will continue to work hard for the regional competition and hope to continue this success.”

At the regional competition, the team of 20 freshmen, sophomores and juniors will compete in multiple mock trials, where they will argue both the plaintiff and defense sides of the case.

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