Trinity Mock Trial
On Monday the 24th of May, the Trinity Mock Trial team, consisting of D. Chuchra, J. Perera, K. Kwok, W. Martin, D. Wang and C. Kong, hosted Tempe High School for Round 3 of the NSW Mock Trial Competition. Coming off the back of the recent victory against St. Maroun’s College, the team was excited and was particularly motivated by the knowledge that a second victory would secure our position in the first knockout round. Nonetheless, the trial was always going to be challenging, given it would be the first civil trial that our team would face.
On the day, our team was tasked with proving on the ‘balance of probabilities’ that the Defendant, Burwood Council, was liable for causing ‘private nuisance’ to the Plaintiff, Tony Fleming, and thus liable for the $12,000 worth of damages caused to their property. Specifically, we had to prove that years of neglect by the Council and their poor installation of a root blocker had allowed the roots of three fig trees owned by the Council to cause structural damage to the Plaintiff’s private residence.
Our case began strongly with Daksh’s expert delivery of the opening address, in which he succinctly set out the relevant law, explained how it applied to our case, and introduced the witnesses that we would be calling to the stand. The first barrister for the Defence gave their opening address in response. Soon after, our first witness, Will, playing the part of Tony Fleming, was sworn in. Daksh and Will then worked together to deliver an almost flawless examination-in-chief, after which the first barrister for the Defence began their cross-examination. Fortunately, the extensive background research conducted by the team on root blockers paid off here, as this allowed Will to take advantage of the broad questions being asked by the Defence and enter valuable information about Tony’s past experience with root blockers into evidence. Following this, the second witness, Dylan, playing the part of Tony’s repairman, Alex Chen, was sworn in, and he too delivered a strong examination-in-chief with the support of second barrister, Josh. Notably, Josh was able to successfully deal with all seven of the opposing barrister’s objections, allowing the entirety of Dylan’s affidavit to be entered into evidence. In the subsequent cross-examination, Dylan was put under pressure by strong questions from the opposing barrister, who tried to guide him into contradicting Tony Fleming’s testimony. Nonetheless, Dylan held strong and gave the Defence no evidence that would be particularly useful for their case, putting us in a strong position going into the second half of the trial.
It was at this time that the first witness for the Defence, someone playing the part of the Mayor of Burwood Council, was sworn in and examined by their first barrister. In this testimony it was revealed that the Defence’s explanation for the damage was that the Plaintiff had damaged the root blocker themselves. However, in cross-examination, Daksh expertly cornered the witness into admitting that they had “no evidence” for this explanation at all, effectively ‘shutting the gate’ on them, as taught by coach Mr Shipp. This strategic questioning on the part of Daksh gave Trinity a huge advantage going into the examination of the fourth and final witness, the chief engineer of Burwood Council. In Josh’s cross-examination of this witness, he too successfully executed the ‘shutting the gate’ strategy, eventually guiding the engineer to admit that “the only evidence [they] have is that [they] didn’t damage the root blocker themselves”, and that the one they did install was only of a “standard” depth, which is unsatisfactory for large fig trees. Josh also peppered this witness with questions about the nature of root blockers to demonstrate their lack of experience with them, eventually forcing the opposing barrister to break character and claim it was beyond the scope of the Mock Trial. Once again, these lines of questioning set up the team well going into the closing arguments.
Bill Pratt | MIC
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