Legislature honors MCS Mock Trial Knights

The 20th CNMI Legislature recently recognized Mount Carmel School’s Mock Trial Knights for their performance in representing the CNMI at the 2018 National High School Mock Trial Championship in Reno, Nevada, where the team won the Larry Bakko Award for Professionalism and Civility.

The author of the House Resolution 20-31, Rep. Ivan Blanco (R-Saipan), presented a plaque of the resolution to the members of the team at a recent school assembly.

In the resolution, the House commended members of the team “for their honorable representation of the CNMI at the 2018 National High School Mock Trial Competition…and for their outstanding achievement in receiving the Larry Bakko Award.”

In presenting the plaque, Blanco also gave each member of the team signed copies of the resolution.

The Larry Bakko award was created by the National High School Mock Trial Championship to highlight the importance of professionalism, civility, integrity, and fair play, both inside and outside the courtroom. The award is nominated by and voted on by all teams at the end of the competition.

The award is named after Larry Bakko, a pioneer in mock trial who developed the program’s current scoring system and contributed to the continuing success of the program. As the national organization put it, “he strove to perfect his scoring system, he worried about judging panels, he stressed over the capacity of the courtrooms for the size of the spectator groups, he provided statistical analysis and frequently responded to many questions and challenges about the power-matching system.” The organization added, “It was Larry’s tenacity and love for the program that kept him coming back year after year.”

Bakko passed away in 2013 after a battle with cancer.

In addition to winning the Larry Bakko Award, the Mock Trial Knights fared well in four contentious rounds. In all four rounds, the team faced states that had previously won the national competition, including Nebraska (1985 and 2015 national champions), Georgia (1995, 1999, 2007, 2008 national champions), South Carolina (1989 and 2004 national champions), and Wisconsin (1989 national champions). All four teams have also regularly placed in the top 10 since the start of the national competition in 1984. After all the rounds, the Mock Trial Knights won four ballots with a score of 1000, and ranked 34th in the nation, besting a dozen other teams, including mock trial powerhouses like Indiana (2009 and 2011 national champions), Hawaii (2005 2nd place), and South Carolina.

The team expressed its appreciation to everyone that supported it along the way, including its attorney coach Garth Backe, Gov. Ralph Torres, attorney Vince Torres, the CNMI Public School System, Tim Thornburgh, Dencio Manglona, the CNMI Judiciary, the CNMI Bar Association, CNMI Mock Trial coordinator Deanna Manglona-Ogo, Eulalia Villagomez-Arriola, from the CNMI Bar Association, and Divana Dela Cruz from the CNMI Judiciary. (PR)

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