Mock Trial Scores Historic Win

Gold Team members gather for a photograph with Justice Sabrina Makena after the state championships—Anika Keuning, Gavin Koizumi, Kristin Lau, Sydney Settsu, Alyssa Futa, Talia Egami, Nick Miwa, Jalen Sur, Justice Sabrina Makena, Jacqueline Morgan, Ayla Tago, Zachary Fujita, and Timothy Chang.

On April 1, the HBA Mock Trial Gold team competed in the Hawaii Mock Trial State Finals and defeated teams from Moanalua and Island Pacific Academy to become the state champion for the first time in school history.

Following a superb season, the Gold team finished the state finals with a score of six wins, zero losses, for an overall score of 10-1. The second place school finished with a score of 8-3.

This year’s trial centered around a man accused of credit card fraud. The team began training in November, meeting several times each week after school and on Saturdays from nine to four. Senior head attorney Alyssa Futa felt “fairly confident” as they began the normal season, because she felt the team was dedicated and had prepared well for the roles. The postseason, however, was another matter entirely.

This was the first time HBA had advanced to the state finals in five years, meaning that none of the current team members had any prior experience at states. Futa worried about the team’s ability to beat veteran teams in the competition. “Moanalua [High School’s] Mock Trial team has won states for the past seven years, and we knew that we would be going up against them at one point,” Futa explained, “and from past experience we knew that they were a very skilled team, so we were definitely doubtful that we would win.”

We went in with the mentality that we were just happy to be there,” Futa said. “So I think that kind of took the edge off a little bit, knowing that whatever the outcome, we had made it [to states.] But winning came as a welcome surprise.

Junior witness Jacqueline Morgan said she was nearly overcome by anxiety before their trial. “I was freaking out so badly,” she said, “and Talia had to keep hitting me to break me out of the panic attacks I was having.” However, just before beginning the trial, Futa and the team were able relax by putting things into perspective. “We went in with the mentality that we were just happy to be there,” she said. “So I think that kind of took the edge off a little bit, knowing that whatever the outcome, we had made it [to states.] But winning came as a welcome surprise.”

As the final scores were announced, Futa remembered expecting that they would end up in second place. “I was preparing myself to receive the second place trophy, but when they called Moanalua for second place, I looked back at my team… and we were all shocked,” she said.

Junior cross examiner Zachary Fujita recalls that same feeling of disbelief. “After we found out that we got first place, that was one of the best feelings in the world,” he said. “Everyone was so ecstatic, and we all looked at each other and our mouths were wide open, and it was amazing.” In fact, Fujita was so elated that Morgan particularly remembers his reaction to their win. “Zach just turned around and looked at me and his face was red, and he said to me, ‘Jackie, I’m going to cry.’” she said.

Head coach Troy Egami felt a range of emotions when the results were announced. “First, joy for the team; second, a sense of justice,” he said. “I always think our teams should win and really felt strongly this year [that they would,]” he continued. “Third, a sense of relief because we finally reached our promised land. Fourth, great pride, and finally…unusually warm happiness.”

Egami had praise for this year’s Mock Trial team in particular. “Their chemistry was great, their work ethic was great, the team’s attitude was great…We communicate a lot, so they know clearly how proud the coaching staff is of them,” he said.

Looking ahead to next year, especially since the majority of this year’s winning team are not seniors, Egami expects the returnees to “stretch themselves and find out what they are capable of… and not rest on the laurels of this year.” Futa, who will be graduating this year, hopes this year’s historic achievement will motivate future teams to win again. “I hope that they’ll remember that they have been there before and that they can be there again. And I have absolute faith for the team and their leaders for next year,” she said.

Egami says the team’s success is also a testament to the school’s support of the club. “HBA is really a special place. From the school president, to principal and vice principal, to the faculty and support staff, everyone tries to find a way to help. Every match day, before we get on the bus to the courthouse, one of our team members delivers a prayer. In that prayer, there is always thanks for HBA’s support…These things don’t happen without unreal support from the school.”

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