Morris Mock Trial Team finishes seventh in State

After a season wrought with many hurdles, including many illnesses, that made it difficult to compete, the Morris Area Schools Mock Trial Team finished seventh in the state.

The team is coached by attorneys Charlotte Culbertson and Aaron Jordan, and teacher Seth Kelly, and captained by Anna Jordan, Kaia Anderson and Heidi Seales. 

The team’s 3-1 record allowed them to compete in the “play-in,” which is similar to a section final tournament, where they prevailed over Cloquet and qualified for the state tournament.

Tournament results:

Round 1 – Morris Area’s Defense vs. Bemidji’s Prosecution – Loss

Round 2 – Morris Area’s Prosecution vs. Eastview High School’s Defense – Win

Round 3 – Morris Area’s Defense vs. Hill Murray’s Prosecution – Win

The team then had a 2-1 record at the state tournament, and only the two undefeated teams go on to the state final round, giving them a seventh in state position, and ranking higher than every team they have gone up against this season. “Every trial was close and the scores were tight, with Morris Area totaling +8 point differential for the tournament over nine ballots (three per round.)

Coach Kelly pointed out that it’s worth noting that the scoring for Mock Trial changes from the season to the state tournament. During the season, only two scoring judges’ ballots are tallied to determine a winner, while during the state tournament points count toward power rankings, but each of the three judges (one presiding judge, and two scoring judges) fill out a score sheet that counts as one “ballot” to determine a winner. Even in Morris Area’s round one loss to Bemidji, they actually scored higher in scoring judges’ total points. Kelly said that considering that, Morris Area would have won that trial, too, if the scoring followed the season standards.

Kelly also said that it’s worth noting that there is not a class system within the Minnesota State Bar Association’s (MSBA) Mock Trial activity like there is in most MSHSL activities. In MSHSL activities, Morris Area would never compete against schools in different classes, such as Eden Prairie in hockey, Eastview in basketball or Prior Lake in One Act Play, but in Mock Trial, all of these schools are in the same class. Only Morris Area and Battle Lake would be considered “small schools” of the 16 schools present, which makes Morris Area’s performance even more impressive. 

Team members Thea Kolden and Anna Jordan were recognized as All State Witness and All State Attorney, respectively, at the awards banquet.

“From my coaching perspective, I was especially proud of how Morris Area got stronger during each successive trial. Our seniors (Kaia Anderson, Jeslyn Olson, and Anna Jordan) led our team to a triumphant third-round trial that was expertly fought. Both their attorney coach, Aaron Jordan, and I felt it was clearly the best trial we’ve competed in during our 5 years with the team. Our attorneys were sharp, quick, and technically sound, and our witnesses clearly embodied their characters and anticipated the opponents’ (Hill Murray’s) attacks with tact and discipline,” said Kelly.