RFH’s Mock Trial Team reaches milestone

October 8th, 2013

Mock Trial Team

Caption for photo: Taking a much-needed break after success in the courtroom are Matt Sheehan, Chris Hunt, Tom Slavin, Shannon McCracken, Ellie Halfacre, Anna Marchese, Tom Miller, and George Ketterer.



Rumson — Members of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s Mock Trial Team
marked a milestone this past January. The RFH Plaintiffs prevailed against the team
from Manasquan High School in the case of Capella vs. Petzicon, Inc. to reach the
quarterfinals for the first time since current advisor Bob Galante took over the reins five
years ago. Yet as exciting as this win proved to be, it was viewed as just the icing on the
cake for team members.

RFH senior Ellie Halfacre, who joined as a freshman, reflected the collective mindset
when she noted that the Mock Trial meetings are just as instructive and enjoyable as
the competitions. “People are aware of the Mock Trial competitions, but they don’t
realize that there are a lot of social aspects to this activity as well,” she said. Added
junior Matt Sheehan, “Mock Trial is like the ultimate group project because you rely on
one another so much, and while we are always striving to improve we really do have a
lot of fun.”

Mock Trial competitions are held at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold and
are presided over by real-life judges who offer constructive criticism as well as verdicts.
The cases are based on actual litigation, with the names of the parties changed for
privacy purposes. In the Mock Trial case of Capella vs. Petzicon, Inc., the owner of a
show dog sued a pet care corporation after she claimed that the use of their flea powder
led to the dog’s demise. RFH students acted as lawyers for both the show dog owner
and the pet care corporation. The defense had the job of arguing that the plaintiff’s claim
for $500,000 in damages was too high. Previous years’ cases have included a hate
crime, a kidnapping, and an auto accident blamed on texting while driving.

According to the participating students, the real-life courtroom experience is invaluable.
“Nothing you learn in the classroom compares with the experience of preparing your
case and speaking in front of an actual judge,” noted junior Tom Miller. Added senior
Anna Marchese, “You get to see the real-life implications of all types of cases, and you
could also discover which legal track interests you the most.”

In the quarterfinals held on January 29 at the Freehold Courthouse, the Rumson-Fair
Haven team was defeated by the group from Monmouth Regional High School. That
loss did not dampen the enthusiasm of the team members or their advisor.

“I can’t say enough good things about Mock Trial, and how much it helps to improve
analytical thinking as well as writing and public speaking skills,” said Team Captain and
RFH senior “George Ketterer. ” I am really going to miss this group next year.”

Club Advisor and RFH Social Studies Teacher Mr. Galante concurred, noting “Mock
Trial members are consistently the finest, most inquisitive and most dedicated students
you could have the pleasure of knowing.” He also praised Ellie Halfacre and George
Ketterer for their superior performances as attorneys.

Many of the students involved in Mock Trial have been inspired to pursue careers in
the field of law, and both Ellie and George based their college entrance essays on their
experience with the team.

Mock Trial Team members are seniors Ellie Halfacre, George Ketterer, and Anna
Marchese, juniors Tom Milller, Matt Sheehan and Tom Slavin, sophomores Rebecca
Barabas, Chris Hunt, and Perry Litwin, and freshman Shannon McCracken.

Civil Attorney Rayna Kessler, an Associate with the firm of Cohen, Placitella, and Roth,
P.C. of Red Bank, serves as a Lawyer-Coach for the RFH Mock Trial Team.

Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations
mkampfe@rumsonfairhaven.org or 908-347-8885

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