Like an actual court case, with lawyers, witnesses and a judge overseeing the case — local schools competed this past weekend with a mock trial competition. Twelve schools from around the Valley, including all area Edinburg High schools, got first-hand experience of how it would feel to be presenting a real case in court.

The Annual Region One ESC Mock Trial Competition was held at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. For this competition, students were given a legal case by the Dallas Bar Association in October of last year. Each school team, consisting of 10 students each, prepared to be the defense or the prosecution. Students were told which side they will be on the day of the competition.

“The Texas High School Mock Trial competition is a statewide extracurricular program whose primary purpose is to increase students’ understanding of our judicial system by providing a first-hand experience in court,” said Region One ESC Mock Trail Coordinator, Esequiel Martinez. “Students address legal issues, legal procedures, reasoning skills in a “real life” setting, and critical productive and creative thinking.”

Students were able to approach the bench, object and present evidence. Local area attorneys sat through each case and played the role of the judge overseeing the case. After each round, the attorneys would critique each team. Students acting as witnesses were also sworn in and cross examined by each team.

On Saturday, the winners of the Mock Trial Competition were Edinburg North and Edinburg High, both teams advanced to the final round competition, which took place on Monday. Both teams will also advance to the state competition in Dallas in March.

Alyss Saenz from Edinburg North High school was part of the second round of competitions. She felt excited to be a part of the competition this year. “I was a junior participant last year, so I didn’t get to compete,” she said. “I sat as an audience member but learned a lot from it.”

Sam Milligan, couch for the Edinburg North team said the students have been preparing for this competition every day after school. “Since the beginning of the year the students have been preparing,” he said. “We have met on the weekends, afterschool and over the break.”

Milligan said students have to try out for the team at the beginning of the year. Milligan has been the Mock Trial coach for Edinburg North for over 13 years and has taught government for 32 years.