Mock Trial team earns 4th trip to state contest

Thinking on your feet is a key element of a good mock trial team, and for Perham High Schools amateur attorneys, theyve been on their toes for at least seven years.

Thinking on your feet is a key element of a good mock trial team, and for Perham High Schools amateur attorneys, theyve been on their toes for at least seven years.

For the third straight year, the Yellowjacket mock trial team has qualified for state. For the past seven years, theyve competed in the regional finals.

Im very proud of the work and time they put into this, said Terry Karkela, who has been attorney-coach for more than a dozen years, for two separate stints. He returned to coaching four years ago.

It is really a challenge for the students, said Karkela, a Perham attorney. Not only do they have to learn facts, but they have to learn rules and procedure and how it all fits together...Then, they have to act on their feet, without a script.

One of the highlights of this season was the match with Apple Valley, which was the top team last year. We thought we were going to get smoked, said Karkela. Instead, Perham won the meet.


Smaller, outstate schools are often at a disadvantage, noted Karkela, which makes Perhams success all the more exciting. Mock trial is one class, no separation in A or B for smaller schools.

In larger schools, mock trial is often taken as a class--which usually means more time for preparing cases and practicing, noted Karkela.

As a strictly extra-curricular activity here, we have to find time after school, schedule around other activities--and learn how to practice law.

Mock trial is a great opportunity for students to get an introduction to law. There wasnt Mock Trial for Karkela during high school or college.

Some students continue from Mock Trial into the legal profession. In fact, Perham Mock Trial alumnus Shannon Peloquin is currently captain of the University of Minnesota Mock Trial team.

Interestingly, a survey was conducted to try and determine how many Mock Trial students went into law. Actually, more of them went on to become physicians--rather than attorneys.

What does that finding suggest?

Well, it indicates we get the best and the brightest in Mock Trial, said Peloquin.


On the other hand, he noted with a laugh, maybe those students found something about law that made them reluctant to pursue it as a career.

The Perham High School Mock Trial team defeated St. Cloud Christian Feb. 21 to advance to the State Tournament.

Perham's team is led by senior attorneys Katie Karkela, Jake Muszinski and Colman Silbernagel. Its witnesses are Amanda Baumgart, Claire Pawlowski, Amanda Snyder, Jessica Spanswick, Angie Strege and David Tomporowski.

Perham is coached by attorney coaches Terry Karkela and Paul Hunt and teacher coaches Cory Solberg and Jeremy Kovash.

Approximately 200 teams begin the Mock Trial season in Minnesota with the top 12 advancing to the State Competition.

This years State Tournament will take place at the Olmstead County Courthouse in Rochester March 13-15.

This year's case, which is selected by the Minnesota Bar Association, is a civil trial involving battery and negligence resulting from a soccer game.

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