A year of change for Mock Trial


Ellis Rougeou

The new mock trial coach Mr. Whet Smith leads the first practice, preparing the team for this season. Veteran Mock Trial seniors Fia Arbelaez and Camille Smith returned, excited to see what their last year holds.

Blaney Rowe, Reporter

The St. Mary’s Mock Trial team welcomes a new coach to the team this year, Mr. Whet Smith – a Mock Trial Nationals winner, who is ready to take SMS all the way.

“I had a lot of success in my last job,” Mr. Smith said. “Starting does make me nervous, but it’s a good nervous, and I’m very excited and optimistic about the year.”

Along with having a new coach this year, the team will follow a different and more intense practice schedule. Students on the Mock Trial team will spend three months, with about four days of practice each week, on a case provided by the Tennessee Bar Association in order to prepare for the competitions. 

Many of the students on the Mock Trial team are interested in pursuing a law-related career, Camille Smith (12, no relation to Whet Smith) being one of them. Smith joined Mock Trial her freshman year and has been on the team ever since.  

“I have always been interested in legal matters, one thing that I am really interested in is ‘mens rea’ cases,” Smith said. Mens rea refers to the mental element of criminal intent.

Ellie Midha (9) is new to the team this year and is curious to see what the team is like up close. 

“They’re really into [Mock Trial], and they’re very determined to be one of the best,” Midha said. “I am a little nervous about learning everything because everyone [knows] what they’re doing, but I’m overall excited.”

St. Mary’s won the Regional Mock Trial Championship last year but unfortunately did not make it to Nationals. At Whet Smith’s old school, he took his team to Nationals and has high hopes to take the SMS team there this year.

“It is really a great way to spend time together, and that is really what I remember [about Nationals],” Smith said. 

In order to get his team to Nationals, Smith is incorporating a new way of practicing: using past cases for a third-party organization that hosts competitions for Mock Trial teams, called Empire Mock Trial. 

Camille Smith feels like this will help the team learn more about Mock Trial outside of the Tennessee Bar Association. 

“We are experimenting with prior Empire cases that will help us expand our knowledge of the courtroom,” she said. “Whet Smith is a really strong leader, and we have a lot of new talented friendships. We have good morale going and a new schedule that makes it easier to get things done.”

Even though Mock Trial is only now beginning, Smith emphasizes that the team is ready to dominate in the courtroom.

“Mock Trial always wins at regionals, and we are also really hoping to win at state this year,” she said. “Since we went in person last year, we have a better understanding of how it works. That experience will help us come back stronger than ever this year.”