ISS Mock Trial Team places third at competition

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pictured are Liz Jones (’18), Marc Straus (’16), Taylor Hinch (’17), Chandler Pulliam (’17), Dayna Rollins (’17), Max Klapow (’17) and Davis Tyler-Dudley (’17). (Contributed)

Pictured are Liz Jones (’18), Marc Straus (’16), Taylor Hinch (’17), Chandler Pulliam (’17), Dayna Rollins (’17), Max Klapow (’17) and Davis Tyler-Dudley (’17). (Contributed)


INDIAN SPRINGS – A team of seven Indian Springs School students won thirdplace at the 2015 YMCA National Judicial Competition (NJC) in Chicago on July 31.

Competing against 27 teams from 14 states, teammates Taylor Hinch (’17), Liz Jones (’18), Max Klapow (’17), Chandler Pulliam (’17), Dayna Rollins (’17), Marc Straus (’16) and Davis Tyler-Dudley (’17) shone as they prepared arguments for both the prosecution and defense in a criminal case involving the hazing and death of a college fraternity pledge.

The team advanced to the YMCA NJC after finishing secondlast November at the 2014 Alabama YMCA Youth and Government Judicial Conference, which requires each team to prepare only one side of a case.

Three other mock trial teams from Indian Springs School also placed in the top 20 at the statewide conference.

In Alabama, the top three teams are invited to compete at the national level.

“Our students did a fantastic job,” said ISS volunteer coach Carole Mazer, a clinical psychologist and parent of ISS alumni who works with the group during the school year. “What’s so incredible about this national win is that this young team, which trains a few hours a week after school as part of Indian Springs’ student-run, extracurricular Mock Trial Club, was competing against rising seniors and new high school graduates who prepare daily through their schools’ mock trial classes and curricula. Our kids focus on what it takes to be persuasive, professional and likeable in their comments and body language, and I believe that this gives them an edge in any arena.”

Begun in 2012, the NJC is designed for students in grades 9-12 and hosted in partnership with the American Bar Association.

Each state’s YMCA Youth and Government program may send delegates to compete.

As part of the 2015 competition, attorneys, judges and law students from across Chicago judged five mock trials over the course of two days at the Chicago Bar Association Building.

“One of the big things we’ve learned as a team is that success in mock trial doesn’t necessarily come down to how much law you’ve been taught,” said Klapow, who delivered the team’s opening statement at the NJC with little time to prepare when a teammate woke up with laryngitis. “The defining part is how much you work for it, how much you want it and how well you think on your feet.

While we meet only three hours a week, we work productively. It comes down to hard work and dedication.”

During their downtime at the NJC, the ISS teammates “ate our way through Chicago,” said Klapow, who confides that the group chose to eat light one day to prepare for a deep dish pizza dinner at Lou Malnati’s. The team also heard a Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsal at Millennial Park, visited Navy Pier and took a Chicago Sightseeing Cruise.

“We are absolutely thrilled that our students’ dedication and hard work resulted in this fantastic showing at the YMCA National Judicial Competition,” ISS Director Gareth Vaughan said. “They take part in our Mock Trial Club—practicing on their own time and adding to their busy schedules—because they love it. To me it is more evidence that when we help students find and follow their passions, they are able to rise to their full potential.”