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H-BC mock trial teams face each other in Luverne

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Mavis Fodness

Hills-Beaver Creek Mock Trial teammates may soon be watching movies together in order to better present their case in court.
The two H-BC Mock Trial teams competed against each other Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 23, in the Rock County Courthouse in Luverne.
Presiding judge, Luverne attorney Ben Vander Kooi, suggested that the students watch one or both of the movies that were made from the cases.
Observing the actors in the movies could help the students better present their mock trial cases.
“Proceed as if there is a jury and you have to tell them the story,” Vander Kooi said.
He and Margaret Erickson of Worthington scored the competition, ruling for the defense (High School) in the mock trial case of Hayden Brooks versus Cahill Monitor.
The winning defense team consisted of student attorneys Abby Knobloch, Allie LaRock and Josie Scholton. Defense witnesses were Sadie Fuerstenberg, Lauren Tatge and Hannah Fick.
In the civil mock trial case, Commissioner Brooks contends he was defamed by the Monitor’s article about him accepting a bribe from a local businessman to vote in favor of moving a planned pipeline.
Brooks was unable to cast a vote since he was out of office when the postponed vote took place. Brooks kept the bribe, stating he won the $500,000 gambling. The businessman took his story to the newspaper.
Not proving their client was defamed by the newspaper article were plaintiff attorneys portrayed by students Bryn Mongeau, Jacob Sheppard, Shayla Rainford with plaintiff witnesses portrayed by Carter Hartz, Taylor Durst and Austin Allen.
“I want to congratulate everybody for their civility and professionalism,” scorer Erickson said. “The main point is that this is a learning experience.”
Wednesday’s competition was the third of four rounds of the 2019 Minnesota Bar Association Mock Trial regular season.
Both H-BC teams were 0-2 before going head-to-head at the Rock County Courthouse in Luverne.
“I was really proud of them,” said coach Glenda Kuehl. “I’ve seen such improvement since they started.”
Competition began Jan. 11. The case was released to students in October 2018.
The Jan. 23 competition gave students a rare chance to compete in their own county courthouse. They usually travel to Slayton, Redwood Falls or Ivanhoe.
“Amazing,” Abby Knobloch summed up the experience.
Students Taylor Durst, Jacob Sheppard, Lauren Tatge and Josie Scholten received certificates for their witness and attorney performances.
The recognition, voted on by the students after each competitive round, is new this year.
“It makes your team think about the other team and recognize they did a good job,” Kuehl said.
Due to the increased interest in mock trial this year, two H-BC teams were formed (H-BC High School and H-BC White). 
Competing against teammates was also an unusual experience for the students.
“I found it hard to stay serious,” Rainford said.
H-BC’s last competitions are Feb. 8 in Ivanhoe.

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