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Chemeketa Mock Trial Team held showcase before taking on four-year schools

From left, plaintiff attorneys Delia Rivera, Mj Flores, and Connor Amundson listen intently to the defense’s arguments in a recent Mock Trial presentation at Chemeketa.

From left, plaintiff attorneys Delia Rivera, Mj Flores, and Connor Amundson listen intently to the defense’s arguments in a recent Mock Trial presentation at Chemeketa.

By Emily Sisk Photos By Brad Bakke

The rest of the room was silent as the attorneys presented their case.

The audience sat enraptured by the unfolding legal drama on the stage; many were friends or family of someone involved in the proceedings.

Photographers, meanwhile, roamed the room, hoping to get a good shot of the plaintiff or the defendant and their respective legal teams.

That was the scene on Jan. 28 as Chemeketa’s mock trial team staged a courtroom demonstration in the Chemeketa Auditorium. The team’s showcase drummed up excitement and awareness before they departed for the Northwest Regionals, which took place in Boise, Idaho.

During the course of an hour, the prosecution made its case in the civil suit. A child psychologist and a forensics expert took the stand, stating their findings in ballistics, blood splatter evidence, and psychological evaluations.

The team was prepared to make a defensive case as well, but time constraints limited the proceedings.

According to Maria Cruse, a Chemeketa political science instructor and the team’s adviser, the case is similar to one that a lawyer could potentially face.

It also is the type of case that often comes up in a competition for mock trial teams.

“The cases that the association chooses, they create, it’s kind of like Law and Order,” Cruse said. “They’re created from bits of reality.”

At the beginning of the year, the Mock Trial Association releases its annual case for competition. Teams must read and re-read the case and then make choices on how the members will choose to argue, what witnesses they will call, and who will handle particular duties.

The teams also must be prepared for whatever another team might challenge them with during a competition.

After the Jan. 28 proceedings ended, Cruse stepped down from her role as judge to address the audience and had nothing but praise for her team.

“It’s my privilege to work with such a talented and dedicated bunch of students,” she said.

Chemeketa’s mock trial team has spent the year competing at invitational events and despite being the only community college at the events has been making a strong showing.

“We’ve been to the University of Oregon and the University of Washington for invitationals,” team member Trey Dean said.

“At the University of Washington, we actually drew with one of their teams and one of Oregon State University’s teams.”

Dean said that he didn’t originally plan to be on the mock trial team but that a class with Cruse convinced him to sign up.

“Initially, I actually wanted to go into law enforcement,” he said. “But after taking Dr. Cruse’s political science classes, I decided that I would probably be best suited in the attorney world.”

The team participated Feb. 7 and 8 at the Northwest Regional competition in Boise. There, they competed against teams from the University of Washington, Gonzaga, and University of California, Berkley.

Considering their rivals, the Chemeketa mock trial team was able to hold its own and finished with a score of 1-6-1. Dean was named an Outstanding Attorney of the tournament for his performance and accumulation of 17 points.

Team Captain Jesse Thompson noted on the small point differentials in their losses at the tournament.

“It showed that we could compete with the universities,” he said.

In the spring, the team will hold a recruiting session for new members. Interested students can contact Cruse for further information by emailing her at

Thompson said, “We’re looking forward.”

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