Mock Trial students gain experience in field of law

By ElissaEisele

Marian Mock Trial team at the Douglas County Courthouse on Oct. 19. Front Row: Ava Moore ’25, Claire Bentley ’23, Reese Eggers ’26. Back Row: Gabriella Roche ’24, Tungkang Kuon ’24, Elissa Eisele ’23, Mackenzie Reidy ’25, Katherine Dietz ’26. Photo courtesy of Coach Jackie Tondl Ryan ’12.

Mock Trial season started in full swing in August. The team has two sections within it: a varsity competition team and a junior varsity non-competition team. The team itself is made up of students from all grade levels and all types of academic interests. 

With the range of teammates Mock Trial allows for “so many great friendships with people I probably wouldn’t typically become friends with, including upperclassmen,” freshman Mock Trial teammate Reese Eggers said. 

In early August, the team received case materials and got to work. For the most part, the cases are civil suits, meaning that the case is a legal dispute between two or more parties. The team practices once a week for two hours on Monday evenings. All the preparation leads up to the actual Mock Trials that the team competes in. 

Through the Nebraska State Bar Foundation, Omaha Mock Trial teams have the opportunity to compete with other high school teams in their district. The trials themselves are held at the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha, and are open for all to come watch. Marian competed against teams such as Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart and Creighton Preparatory for their trials this season. 

Each team is guaranteed to play both the defense and the plaintiff of the case at least once. Marian Mock Trial participants only had the opportunity to play the role of the plaintiff twice, and were randomly selected to receive a bye week. Receiving a bye week means that Marian would not get the opportunity to compete in all of the three guaranteed trials. Essentially, the team received a mandatory week off.

The team is mainly coached by attorneys at law Courtney Foltz of McGrath North, Caroline Nelsen Pieper of Seyfarth Shaw and Jackie Tondl Ryan of Koley Jessen. It is moderated by social studies teacher Mr. Chris Dziadus. These coaches take the time out of their busy schedules to dedicate their expertise and knowledge of the law to the Mock Trial team. Nelsen Pieper ’10 and Tondl Ryan ’12 are Marian alumnae. 

This was Ryan’s first year coaching the team. Ryan loved “being around all the girls” and she “can say without a doubt that Marian girls have not changed since I was there 10 years ago.” 

Photo illustration of the team’s mascot,  Elle Woods, by ElissaEisele.

The team puts in immense effort and dedication, providing countless hours of their time and staying at school long after the final bell has rung every Monday. It is no small feat learning legal terminology and perfecting opening statements, closing statements, direct examinations and cross examinations. 

After the team completes their season of three guaranteed trials, they have the opportunity to make it to state, and even nationals. Marian’s Mock Trial team has only qualified for state once, and has yet to win a state title however it is a team goal to compete at state. 

This was sophomore Ava Moore’s second year on the team. Moore said  her goal “is to make the top four and go onto state, then regional and national competitions,” and that she “hopes everyone works hard again next year.” 

Mock Trial is a great way to improve public speaking and deductive reasoning skills. Along with this, it is an easy way to learn more about the field of law and become connected with individuals who have real world experience. 

The team finished their trials in late October and will not compete again unless they qualify for state. The Mock Trial team welcomes any Marian girls to come watch them compete and get a small glimpse of the legal world.

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