Lewiston High School’s mock trial team won the state championship Wednesday, defeating Cape Elizabeth. It is the first time Lewiston’s mock trial team has won the state title. (Submitted photo)

LEWISTON — Lewiston High School’s mock trial team is the new state champion after defeating Cape Elizabeth in the state mock trial finals Wednesday.

“I’m ecstatic,” teacher Michelle Crowley said. “They deserved it. The team worked extremely hard. Their performance today was just too hard to beat, even for the reigning five-year state champs from Cape Elizabeth.”

This is the first time Lewiston High has won the mock trial state title, a competition held in front of a justice from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and lawyers at a Cumberland County courtroom.

Deciding the winner Wednesday were Justice Ellen Gorman of Maine’s high court and two lawyers, including federal defense lawyer J. Hilary Billings and attorney Sarah Churchill, who practices in Portland.

Lewiston’s mock trial team will next compete in May in the national mock trial competition in Georgia.

In mock trial competitions, high school students take the roles of prosecutors, witnesses and defense lawyers in real courtrooms.

Wednesday’s mock trial was the “State of Maine v. Alex Buckley,” a fictional case about a prep school fire that killed a young woman, Carly Walsh, who was about to earn the valedictorian spot and receive a full-tuition college scholarship.

The defendant was charged with intentionally starting the fire that killed Walsh so he could claim the valedictorian spot and the scholarship.

During Wednesday’s mock trial, Lewiston students “had the edge,” Crowley said.

“They maintained poise throughout,” she said, “even when handling difficult objections to evidence.”

Crowley said Justice Gorman asked “very lively questions.”

“Everything she asked was high level,” Crowley said. “The students were prepared. They anticipated the objections.”

Students from Lewiston and Cape Elizabeth filled the the roles of lawyers, making opening statements, conducting direct examinations and cross-examinations and presenting closing arguments.

Lewiston High School has had a mock trial team for 25 years, started by Joan Macri, who taught debate and was the aspirations leader before retiring. As a high school senior, Crowley was a student on Macri’s mock trial team.

“I was terrible,” Crowley said, adding that while her father, Paul Dionne, was a lawyer, that experience convinced Crowley not to become a lawyer.

After she became a Lewiston High history teacher, Crowley began helping Macri with the debate team.

“I inherited it from Joan Macri,” she said.

This year’s lawyer coaches are Dionne of Dionne & Couturier Law Offices and Ron Lebel and Amy Dieterich of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott.

Lewiston High’s mock trial team include: Shawn Chabot, Elena Clothier, Olivia Deschenes, Bryce Dufour, Abigail Dundore, Calvin Dundore, Nasser Guelleh, Erin Lachance, Hunter Landry, Andrew Letourneau, Katherine Morin, Rachel Ouellette, Samuel Payne, Kyra Physic, Sara Robert, Robert Shepard and Hunter Steele.

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