Mock trial defies odds and wins state


Savannah Bowerfind

Top, left to right: Coach Sara Matarazzo, coach Rob Schlachter, senior Julia Dodson, senior Kevin Nguyen, senior Clara Schwab, freshman Jonas Schwab, senior Laurel Douthit, senior Savannah Bowerfind | Bottom, left to right: Coach Laura Siegel, coach Brian Kettler, coach Mara Schlachter, senior Lea Kapur, senior Katie Swigart, senior Nathalia Leon, senior Julia Espinosa

For the past five months the Lincoln Mock Trial program has worked in mastering the art of the law.

On March 17, Lincoln’s Red Mock Trial team took home 1st place in the state competition. After taking the wildcard spot of 6th during Regionals, the team went on to compete at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, beating out 18 other teams at the state competition.

They will be heading to Nationals on May 10. Lincoln’s other mock trial team tenth at regionals. Over 78 mock trial teams compete across the entire state of Oregon.

Mock Trial is academic competition based on a legal case. Students play the roles of witnesses, lawyers and court personnel to make up a real trial. Participants must learn Oregon law rules and witnesses must act and perform to persuade the jury to rule in their favor. This year’s case was a criminal case based on a theme of texting and driving.

“I had no idea we’d [even] end up in top two,” said Nathalia Leon, a senior who has participated in the program for four years. “I’m very proud of the team. Each round was really close.”

The last time Lincoln won state was in 2004. Brian Kettler, one of the coaches, was a student then. Now he is a coach and heading to Nationals again.

The other five coaches include Laura Siegel, Mara Schlachter, Rob Schlachter, Alex Byers and Sara Matarazzo, who all have either participated in the program as students or who have extensive knowledge in law.

“The witnesses were eloquent and the lawyers were exceptional on their arguments and objections,” Mara Schlachter said. Both Mara and Rob Schlachter have coached Mock Trial teams for over 20 years.