DANVILLE — Going up against bigger and better-prepared schools can be a challenge, but the Danville Moot Court team stepped up to the challenge for the second year in a row to secure first place in the Ohio State Moot Court championship.

Then Danville Moot Court team beat out Indian Hill High School, who came in second place, to take the top place in the competition. Moot court team member Calvin Huh said that Danville and Indian Hill are sort of rivals, though “we might be more aware of that than them,” Huh said.

But this year’s competition was a bit different thanks to COVID-19. Vivian Hawk, a senior team member, explained that moot court competitions normally have two parts: Written and orals. Moot court teams would write up their arguments for the case before attending an in-person competition where they state their arguments in front of real-life judges and attorneys.

This year, the team didn’t get the chance to argue their case in-person. The scores were based entirely on their written arguments sent in. There were six members on the team this year: Seniors Huh, Adeline Lucas, Hawk and Daniel Patrick; and Freshmen Ryan Lucas and Minda Bates.

Brittany Whitney, Mount Vernon’s assistant city law director and moot court team advisor, said what was impressive is that the team put their case together in just two weeks. This is because the moot court season and the mock trial season run almost at the same time, with moot court’s state competition running a few weeks after a mock trial.

Whitney added that she and Noel Alden, the village of Danville’s Solicitor and team advisor, weren’t going to push the team to do moot court if they didn’t want to this year. She explained that the mock trial season ended a bit unexpectedly with the state competition being canceled and the moot court team mainly consists of mock trail team members.

“I was very impressed with the fact that they did want to do it,” Whitney said. “We did do some Zoom meetings but by and large they organize themselves and they did a lot of independent work.”

The team was self-driven to write their arguments in two weeks, scheduling their Zoom and Google Hangout sessions to work together.

“Last year was a lot easier to work together,” said Adeline Lucas. “So this year, I think it pushed us all to work individually to write different portions since we weren’t all together writing (the argument).”

She said this situation allowed them all to grow in the writing portion of moot court. The members, unable to meet in person, were pushed to figure out the language and argument on their own without heavily relying on everyone else.

Bates thought the whole experience was a bit much coming in as a Freshman just off of the mock trial season.

“It was so different from the mock trial,” she said. “And I know I probably wouldn’t have been able to do moot court if it wasn’t for the team and how much they helped me.”

The team, Bates added, was willing to step up to help teach her along the way because she was so new at moot court.

Rayan Lucas has spent the last few years watching his sister participate in the oral portion of moot court and said it was very interesting to see the written side of things.

“It was interesting to just dive right into the part I’ve never seen before,” he said. “It was actually a lot of fun.”

And next year, it will be up to Ryan Lucas and Bates to help new moot court members get acquainted with writing arguments, which can be as long as 18 pages.

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Jamie Holland: 740-397-5333 or jamie@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @