Senior captains Rhodes Reddick and Ffion Button led the team with assistance from junior captains Allie Gaudion, Riley Eckstrom and Alex Arkoette.
A mock trial team is divided into two parts, a plaintiff team and a defense team. Each team is pitted against its opposite from another school based on a problem/issue created by the Georgia Bar Association. Each of the two teams features three attorneys, who engage in direct examinations of their own witnesses, and cross-examination of the witnesses for the other team. The attorneys make opening statements to a “jury” made up of legal professionals ending with closing statements to summarize the arguments for the team. Each team also has three witnesses who improvise their characters within the bounds set by Georgia Bar material. Additionally, each team includes a timekeeper to assist the witnesses and attorney to stay within time constraints.
Each team member is assessed by the adjudicators for the quality of their performance, attorneys for their mastery of the rules of evidence and their ability to draw out and effectively use witness testimony; for witnesses, assessment is based on the ability to express testimony clearly and effectively, plus some consideration for the quality of the acting as each examination offers a chance for a certain degree of dramatic skill. Each of these assessments is added up in a point system, plus an evaluation by each judge as to which team they felt would have won the case in a real court.
Through six rounds, Walker won four trials, enough to qualify for the top 32. As this is not a Georgia High School Association competition, there are no size classifications. Walker competes against some of the largest schools in the state. However, all teams compete in a blind competition, meaning no team is identified in the courtroom so there can be no accusations of adjudicator bias. Walker, therefore, does not know the names of the schools against which it competed.
At the end of each round, the scores for each attorney and witness are tallied and a “best witness” and a “best attorney” are awarded for each round. Through the first six rounds, Riley Eckstrom won Best Attorney, and Nico Hadjikyriako won best Witness twice. Additionally, Alex Arkoette won Best Attorney in two rounds, and subbing for an absent witness, garnered a “Best Witness” as well.
"The nature of the Walker Mock Trial Team is to organize around passionate and dedicated student leaders,” said Steve Killian, Upper School Social Studies Teacher. “I have always held them responsible for initiating and supervising try-outs, practices and developing strategies within the competition.
“The adults are always present and provide support, advice and guidance. However, they are allowed to run the team in a way and to an extent, no other Walker competitive activity has ever experienced.”
In addition to the current Mock Trial team, Killian credited alumni Allan Hegedus, Andrew Haynes, Emmalissa Perkerson, Mary Johnson, Dylan Alfi, Sean Nesmith, Riley Cohen and many others with lending their skills and leadership to the legacy of the team.
Seth Hagen (Middle/Upper School English) is one of the team's on-campus sponsor/coaches. The team also greatly benefits from involvement by community coaches, professional attorneys who volunteer their time to advise the students on the rules of evidence, how to make appropriate objections and how to read the judges, provide guidance on examination questions and help to edit attorney opening and closing statements.
Each volunteer is the parent of former alums. Victoria Aranow, mother of alums Rebecca Herigel (2006) and Hadden (2018) and Harris Duling (2016), and Bill White, father of Kate (2005) and Hannah White (2012) have been longtime supporters of the Mock Trial program at Walker.