CHS Mock Trial Goes to Finals

Jenny Wu and Darshini Vijayakumar

For the first time in history, Cupertino High School’s Mock Trial Team competed against Homestead High School at the finals round of the Santa Clara County Mock Trial Tournament debating the murder case of People v. Matsumoto.


In Mock Trial, students play the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a fictional case provided by the Constitutional Rights Federation and compete against local schools at a yearly county tournament. This year’s case, People v. Matsumoto, centered around the alleged murder of Taylor Matsumoto by their husband Bailey Matsumoto. 


Students represent either the defense or prosecution. The prosecution side consists of attorneys from the state of California who are bringing criminal charges against, in this case, Bailey Matsumoto, while the defense side consists of the defense attorneys hired by Matsumoto. 


Said vice president and senior, Joshua Yu, “As a prosecuting attorney, we had the responsibility to bring four witnesses to the stand that implicate Bailey Matsumoto’s guilt. We argued that Bailey struck their spouse Taylor on the back of the head with a golf club, causing them to drown in the master bathtub.”


Regarding the general structure of the club, the officers decided to make some fine adjustments this year in order to better educate its members.


Said Yu, “I think this year we, first of all, extended our practice times from one and a half hours a week to two hours, which is still half the amount of time that a lot of other teams meet for every week. So it’s really amazing that even though we had less time to practice, we were still able to do so well this year. This year, especially, we took a lot of time to dissect the case, to figure out the specifics, and really hone in on things like how do you win a competition and not just how do you win a trial.”


Said president and senior Elisabeth Young, “We changed a lot of things this year, in terms of trying to be more competitive. We were much more intense about teaching the legal concepts behind each objection and how to be strategic with objections.”


A lot of the team’s success this year can be credited to the dedication of the members. 


Said Elisabeth Young, “In past years, we’ve had people who we thought would drop halfway through and then we would have to deal with that, but this year everyone was really invested in not only getting to comps, but also winning comps.”


The team members gained fresh insight as the season progressed, which not only contributed to individual team member’s gaining knowledge, but also the growth of the team as a whole.


Ian Dong, senior and defense lawyer on the team, said, “Honestly Mock Trial is just like a great way for me to gain public speaking skills, and I was always outgoing, but sometimes in the courtroom there is such a unique power dynamic between you and the judge and the other attorneys. It’s a really great experience to legally destroy someone in the courtroom. It gives a great insight into what the legal world is like.”


After ending an extremely successful season with Mock Trial, the members take some time and reflect on the lessons learned and the rewarding experiences they had gained from the club.


Said Joshua Yu, “Being able to work with them [the team] every week, work on meeting plans, working on witness character, or direct examinations and cross examinations, all of that, I think that that team spirit and actually being able to see each other every week and be excited to be there, is something that made this year really special to me.”


Although the team’s season is now over, this is just the start. The club has begun to organize the officer team for next year and are building up for an even more successful season.