McNary mock trial team ranks in top three for regionals, now off to state tourney 

Back, left to right: Tate Woodard, Liam Ansbro, Dane Vaughn, Israel Olmos Lopez, Bradley Fryman, Zach Snegirev
Front, left to right: Bhavneet Kaur, Jayson Harding, Kinley McCreery
Student attorney Tate Woodard conducts the cross examination of an opponent witness.

The McNary Mock Trial team placed in the top three in a regional tournament on Feb. 24, alongside South and West Salem High School, at the Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene, as a part of the Civics Learning Project, an organization that tries to get more kids involved in the democratic system. 

These Salem-Keizer teams ranked in the top three out of eleven teams in the Southern Willamette Valley region, including schools from Yamhill, Marion, and Lane Counties, according to Mackenzie Delong, a McNary teacher and coach for the McNary mock trial team. 

The mock trial teams for McNary and West Salem, will hold a practice session on Saturday, March 9, while the actual state tournament will be held over the weekend of March 16 and 17. 

The event is free and open to the public though spectators are relegated to watching a specific team to help avoid issues with scouting other teams. 

The McNary Varsity team is composed of: Liam Ansbro, Bradley Fryman, Jayson Harding, Bhavneet Kaur, Israel Olmos-Lopez, Kinely McCreery, Zachary Snegirev, Dane Vaughn and Tate Woodard who are heading to the state tournament on the 16th and 17th. 

The junior varsity team is composed of: Emiliano Lara Anastacio, Connor Bowlby, Mason Bowlby, Katy Carter, Mason Castleman, Jordyn Cortez, Brianna Garibay, Reagan Garvin, Elena Guevara, Hannah Kellogg and Emma Talento. 

The JV team performed well at regionals though they did not secure a place in the top 16. 

A mock trial is a competition in which students are given a case and have to prepare to argue both the prosecution and defense for that case in a simulated trial setting, according to Delong. 

One McNary student, Bhavneet Kaur, noted that participation on the mock trial teams has greatly increased her abilit to be a beneficial member of society. 

“I’ve begun to think about how laws can differ from state to state, and it is especially important now because I’ll be able to vote. I definitely think the Mock Trial has given some knowledge on issues we can vote on in Keizer and in Oregon,” Kaur said. 

Another McNary mock trial student, Kinley McCreery, noted how the experience is fun as “it gives you great experience in trial, and it’s a really great community.” 

“I plan on going to school to study law and be an attorney so I think it’s an amazing opportunity that aligns with my future,” McCreery finished. 

The example case students will be working with involves a federal criminal case where the defendant, the pilot of a crashed airplane, has been accused of obstruction of justice. 

The workload on the students is no joke as they must perform in multiple roles within the court such as witnesses, attorney, bailiffs as well as clerks, ensuring they utilize proper courtroom etiquette and procedures. 

The students also have to conduct opening and closing statements, direct examination, and cross examination as part of the trial, all of which is graded. 

The teams have aid from several coaches, one being Marion County Justice Court judge Justin Kidd. 

“I love getting young people from all backgrounds excited about the courts because it builds a pipeline of talented young people and helps the court to better reflect the community that we serve,” Kidd said. 

Scoring is conducted via a grading rubric that accounts for performance-based criteria such as a students volume, pacing and poise in the court as well as through content-based criteria such as using the appropriate argument and forming questions in the correct manner. 

These two scores are calculated and the team with the highest score wins. 

Student attorney Bradley Fryman responds to an objection during cross examination.
Student attorney Liam Ansbro (left) conducts the direct examination of a witness played by Dane Vaughn (right)

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-105

SUBSCRIBE TO GET KEIZER NEWS — We report on your community with care, depth, fairness, and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more