Northside High mock trial team participating in Harvard competition

Northside High’s mock trial team is bound for Harvard next week.

The team was selected for Harvard University’s Mock Trial High School Training Seminar where they’ll get feedback and learn about courtroom trial proceedings from Harvard’s own mock trial team members.

Northside High is among 15 to 20 high school teams from across the country that will be competing at the weekend seminar, according to Northside High legal academy director Liz Tullier.

Notification of Northside’s acceptance into the training seminar at Harvard came around the same time the team received two other offers: a return trip to compete at the invitation-only Empire Mock Trial Association’s international competition in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a new opportunity to compete in a high school competition at Yale University.

It was an unexpected, yet motivating, choice for the young team to make, Tullier said.

“Where do we go? Yale? Harvard? New York? I’m never retiring,” Tullier joked.

Harvard’s educational seminar is a combination of lectures and mentoring sessions where a Harvard mock trial team member will coach individual teams as they prepare to compete against other high school teams at the seminar.

Northside High’s team is preparing for a civil case filed by a man seeking damages on behalf of his paralyzed sister.

His sister was unintentionally shot while attending a party, fell out of a window and was left paralyzed as a result of her injuries.

Jasea Ned, a Northside junior, plays the attorney for the doctor who treated the shooting victim.

During a recent practice after school, Ned asked her teammates and the team’s coach and attorney, Brandon Letulier, for tips on how to prepare for her role.

Letulier, a partner with NeunerPate law firm, told her the key is understanding the definitions and the medical terminology.

As part of the Harvard seminar, sophomore Isiah Chavis plays dual roles.

He’ll be an attorney for the police detective who investigated the shooting and for an ex-convict who was at the party.

Chavis said the trip provides an invaluable learning experience for the team.

“I’m a natural competitor, so I hope it helps us win state,” he said.

“ I hope I bring home a different element of intelligence. I want to add on to the things I know about law and mock trial.”

Chavis found his passion for law by accident. He said he enrolled in a law class offered as part of the school’s legal academy because it fit with an open time block in his schedule.

It didn’t take him long to get hooked, especially after he got involved with mock trial and he said his future is now set on law school and practicing law.

Chavis said his mock trial experiences allow him to see different perspectives of a case by playing different roles: witness, plaintiff, defendant, attorney.

“I like the idea of me being able to play a witness and broaden my ideas about life and step in their shoes,” Chavis said. “I also like to be a lawyer and interpret how other people see things.”