Court is now in session: Mock trial team launched by Mount Pisgah students


Tolu Adewumi, News Editor

Mount Pisgah has a new team this year. Practices require no equipment just that players come with exquisite improv skills and a good public speaking voice. 

Mount Pisgah’s inaugural mock trial team has begun competitions and Coach Adelman and Coach Whitehurst are excited to see how the season will go. 

“They don’t call me Coach Whitehurst, but we definitely are a team and I’m really proud of all ten students who have stepped up this year” said upper school history teacher and mock trial faculty advisor John Whitehurst.

Their first few practices consisted of explaining the process of how competitions work. 

“The case is released in October and teams are to practice until January when the preliminary round begins,” Whitehurst added. 

During practices, students run through the case with one another so that they can be as comfortable with their roles as possible, similar to early season scrimmages where players get comfortable with their teammates as well.

Alec Sabatino, a sophomore on the mock trial team, is a witness and he’s learned so much from being on the team. 

“Originally I joined the team because I have lawyers in my family and it sounded interesting,” Sabatino said. “But now I love getting to step into someone else’s shoes and learn procedures in a courtroom.” 

Sabatino loves how mock trial is one of the only teams at Mount Pisgah that is an academic extracurricular and appreciates how much he has learned so far.

“Not only do I get to learn from a real lawyer but also I’ve made relationships with upperclassmen when I normally don’t get such an opportunity,” Sabatino said. “And improving on my acting skills doesn’t hurt either.” 

The improvisational aspect of the mock trial team is what junior Finn Howard finds most exciting about it.

“Law may not be my passion but I love getting to utilize my improv skills and improve my writing and public speaking skills too,” said Howard. 

For the mock trials, the only portion that can be prewritten is the opening statement. Everything else is based on witness responses and the opponent’s strategies. Howard is in charge of making one of the closing statements. 

“I have one of the hardest roles because I have to think on my feet based on what’s shared in the competition which is where my improv skills really give me an advantage,” Howard added.

The participants are actually judged on how well they react to what is said during the trial. 

“Judges want to see that students aren’t reading from notes and that they can react quickly as you would in an actual trial,” Whitehurst said. “Luckily we have another coach who is a lawyer himself so he knows many pointers.” 

Jonathan Adelman is the other coach on the mock trial team who is an insurance defense attorney. 

He has been an attorney for over 25 years and spearheaded getting the program started at Mount Pisgah. 

His son, sophomore Jack Adelman,  is also on the team and is a cross-examiner for this trial along with Howard. 

“Ideally there are 12 players on a team but we only have ten so everyone may have to play more than one role,” Whitehurst added. 

The team’s preliminary competition was on January 30 and the members enjoyed all 3 hours of their trial. 

This team is making Mount Pisgah history with every competition they participate in not only as the newest team at the school but also as future lawyers and attorneys.