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Mock trial underdogs get a favorable verdict

For the first time in seven years, Guilderland High School went to the finals in the mock trial system Wednesday, April 23, placing second in the state.

The mock trial system, set up by the New York State Bar Association, assigns competing high school teams fictitious cases that they take turns arguing for the prosecution and the defense at the Albany County Family Court on Clinton Avenue. A professional judge allocates points for each team's performance during their arguments. At the end of the mock trial, the points are tallied up, and the team with the most wins.

This year's final mock trial was Guilderland v. Doane Stuart Independent School from Albany.

Going into this year's mock trial for Guilderland High School senior Sam Moss was bittersweet.

Going into the finals was exciting but also very sad because it's not only the end of high school, but also the end of the club for me, he said.

Moss said he has been a part of the mock trial club since he was a sophomore.

"I was a witness. Then in my junior year, I took on the role of an attorney," he said.

Moss said the most difficult aspect of the trial is having to constantly think on your feet.

"You don't know what's coming," he said. "You have to be able to come up with something on the spot and be very resilient."

The advisor for the club is English teacher Derek Shuttleworth. He said the club has been around for about 15 years, but he has only been the advisor for the past three. In those years, Guilderland has never won a mock trial.

Shuttleworth said that almost all of the schools involved are private schools with a lot of experience.

"We beat some very top-notch schools," Shuttleworth said. "We had wins where no one expected us to win."

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