HBA Mock Trial Team Moves on to State Finals

Gold Team members gather for a photograph with Justice Alvin Nishimura after one of their trials—Anika Keuning, Kristin Lau, Sydney Settsu, Jeremy Oyer, Jalen Sur, Talia Egami, Jasci Ligsay, Jacqueline Morgan, Kaycee Nakashima, Preston Iha, and Eugene Lee.

HBA is taking its case all the way to the Supreme Court with the aim of winning the Mock Trial State Championships once again.

With 4 wins and 1 loss, the HBA Gold team will be defending their State Championship title at the Mock Trial Competition Finals on March 31 at the Hawaii State Supreme Court, located across Beretania Street from Iolani Palace in Honolulu.

This year’s case revolves around a veteran with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) who’s been charged with forcible assault against a federal officer.

Starting in early October, the HBA teams have been meeting after school several times a week and training on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After competing in five different trials throughout February and March that span from 5-8:30 p.m., the Gold Team won the state playoffs against Saint Louis on March 6 to advance to the state finals.

Senior head attorney Eugene Lee explains that “the team [has pushed extremely hard] through the past five months in order to make it to States.”

The team will compete in two trials against Punahou, Island School, and Moanalua Blue. Although the HBA team won the Mock Trial State Competition last year for the first time ever in the school’s history, last year’s state championship team had no members with any state finals experience. However, this year’s team has six members from that team.

Thus, as the team gears up for the finals, senior and cross examiner Preston Iha doesn’t feel nervous or scared at all. Because of both the team’s experience and hard work, he says, “I’m confident in our team’s abilities and believe that we’ll be able to compete without having to worry too much…The outcome will reflect our work.”

Since most of this year’s team is made up of seniors, this will also be the last trial for a majority of the Gold Team.

“It’s really bittersweet,” said senior Anika Keuning, who is both an attorney and witness.

While she’s excited for the last match, she says, “It’s also kinda sad. I’ve been doing this since I was a freshman and it’s crazy to think it’s over. But, I’m glad I did Mock Trial since it taught me a lot.”

In addition, this will be the last match for HBA’s beloved mock trial head coach Troy Egami. Leading the HBA Mock Trial program for over 16 years, he has trained over 27 teams and led seven into the state finals.

“I feel a great deal of pride in the team, the team Members, the individual students, and Hawaii Baptist Academy as an institution,” Egami said. “I’m especially proud of this year’s team since they’ve been tremendous both in practice and the courtroom.”

So, the Gold Team will start their first trial around 9 a.m. Then, the second trial will end around 4 p.m., which is also when the final standings will be announced.

Moreover, the competition is open to the public and it’s highly encouraged that both HBA students and faculty come down to support the entire team. One of HBA Gold’s team captains Talia Egami says that “having faculty and students at the Mock Trial State Championships would be a great source of motivation. Their support would definitely help boost the morale of our whole team.”

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