PORTLAND — After an all-day competition, with Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jon Levy presiding, a Cape Elizabeth High School team last week won its second consecutive Maine State High School Mock Trial championship.
The team now advances to the national competition in New Mexico next year.
The 30 students from Cape Elizabeth defeated a team from Hampden Academy in the contest, which required them to think on their feet, question witnesses and use appropriate legal references.
In addition to Levy, U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty and Dean Peter Pitegoff of the University of Maine School of Law were evaluators in the final competition, which centered around the murder of the vice president of the fictional Pinnacle Paper Co.
The Cape Elizabeth team, which handled the prosecution, was coached by teacher Mary Page, Principal Jeff Shedd and attorney Richard O’Meara.
Shedd said the students learned a tremendous amount in the mock trial process, which started several months ago with 20 teams and 300 to 350 students.
“They blow me away how skillful they are and how well they can think on their feet,” he said.
Page, a social studies teacher, said the judges noted how well prepared the Cape Elizabeth students were.
“No one needed notes,” she said. “They were prepared for different scenarios.”
Page attributed the students’ success to their hard work and their commitment to participate in a summer mock trail camp where they trained and conducted mini mock trials.
“It really builds team spirit,” she said.
Senior Emily Muscat said the team members meet for dinners, scrimmages and practices several times a week.
“I really enjoy my time on the team,” she said.
Page said the students demonstrated a depth of knowledge, and a grasp on the basic rules of evidence.
This was the team’s second consecutive state championship. Cape defeated eight-time winner Hampden Academy last year, and eventually finished 34th in the national competition.
About a dozen members of the team will go to this year’s national competition, Page said. It will take place in Albuquerque, May 3-6, 2012.
“The team is great,” Page said. “They are enthusiastic, they care about each other and they put int he hard work. This is a high level of thinking and they do a tremendous job.”
The Maine State Bar Association has sponsored the competition for 18 years, with additional support provided by the Maine Bar Foundation and Friends of Mock Trial.
David Ezhaya, president of Friends of Mock Trial, said Cape will receive the case for the national competition on April 1, and will have a month to prepare for the final competition.
“I can’t say enough about the program and the students,” he said. “As the defending state champions, I know Cape will represent Maine and do very well in the nationals.”
Cape Elizabeth High School senior Claire Muscat, right, questions witness Michaela Forde, a junior, during the Maine Mock Trial championship on Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Supreme Judicial Court in Portland. Cape Elizabeth defeated Hampden Academy to advance to the national competition in Albuquerque, N.M., next May.