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The verdict is in

Cary Ashby • Updated Jan 24, 2019 at 9:54 AM

As she played defense witness Dylan Ulrich during the recent mock trial competition, St. Paul High School freshman Isabella Cuturic said the most challenging part was remembering “all the facts about my character.”

Cuturic, the daughter of Len and Lucy, had to know where her character attended school and remember various jobs when she took the stand in Huron County Common Pleas Court.

This year’s mock trial case focuses on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures as it applies to technology. Fictional defendant Quinn Woolf is charged with aggravated theft and telecommunications fraud in connection with using a private, alpha-numeric code to steal $120 million from the state pension fund. Since the state used an aerial drone to obtain images of Woolf in his backyard, it had to be determined if the footage was admissable in court.

“The footage was used as evidence against someone,” Cuturic said.

More than 3,000 Ohio high school students participated in the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s 36th annual mock trial competition. 

Three St. Paul teams made it to the district level, with the competition taking place Friday in the Huron County Courthouse. There was one team from Edison High School and two from Perkins.

Several St. Paul students won individual awards. Sophomore Kennedy Beursken, senior Owen Duncan, junior Jarret Schaffer and senior Cortney Slaven were named the best attorneys. Best witnesses went to senior Amanda Bocock and sophomore Luke Haynes.

The team of Bocock, Duncan, Slaven, Haynes, his twin brother Logan Haynes, and seniors Grace Gillen, Ben Kowalski and Madelyn Hipp advanced to the next level of competition, which will take place Feb. 15 at a location to be determined.

About 2 1/2 months ago, the St. Paul students started preparing their cases. Social studies teacher Brooke Meyer is their adviser.

“My brother was in mock trial. He told me how much fun it was,” said freshman Nathan Catalano, who played a defense attorney. “I think I did a lot better than I thought I would.”

Catalano plans to participate in mock trial next year.

“I liked the commitment. It was fun,” said the son of Tony and Geneva.

Freshman Christopher Kocher was “co-counsel” with Catalano. 

“I think we worked together well,” said Kocher, whose biggest challenge was making sure they “covered all the ground we needed to.”

The experience gave him better speech skills and more confidence, especially in talking in front of people.

“It’s a good representation of how court would go,” Kocher said.

Hipp served as the timekeeper for the opening statements, closing arguments and direct questions.

“If anybody goes over their time, we lose points. We only went over once, so that was good,” said the daughter of Dan and Denise.

This was Slaven’s third year competing in a mock trial. The daughter of Cassandra and Ben Dennis said she naturally excels at the dramatic element, but as in years past, the students who also were portraying lawyers were a big help in preparing the case studies.

Slaven was one of the students honored for her outstanding work as a defense attorney.

“As I start my opening statement, everything else fades away and it’s just me and the judge,” she said.

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