18 Aug Spotlight Series: Julianne Martin
My Mock Trial Family
By Julianne Martin
For the past two years, every February, I have given birth at the San Diego County Courthouse. My child has no physical manifestation, but my pretrial argument is as much of a labor of love as any human child.
First, we write. An army of attorney, faculty, and student minds descend on the case law. We order and reorder, and over the weeks I find myself imposing standards on myself I never could have imagined. The guiding question shifts from “is the argument organized?” to “is the argument organized correctly?” Sounding reasonable is no longer satisfying. What good is a valid point when you could have a dramatic, compelling point in its place? On I go like this, and I watch my teammates do the same. Each time one of us thinks the argument, testimony, introduction is as good as it can be, the dedication of our teammates spurs us forth.
Eventually though, the editing is tempered with the most joyous bonding ritual I’ve ever experienced: scrimmages. At scrimmages, we aren’t just a team, we are one body, with each independent limb supporting the others. As our arguments grow stronger, so does our bond. But even more notable is the way we bond away from the courtroom. From card games to carpools, we take every spare second to make inside jokes about the case, the trials, and everything in between. Inevitably, throughout the scrimmage process, the team receives performance notes. The first time I hear the feedback, I fear that the team might descend into the blame game. Not so. We just keep growing, as does our determination to succeed. When I fear that I have underperformed, my first thought is my team needs me, not anything about myself.
Personal growth aside, come late February, it’s show time. Some might think that pre-competition jitters would make us each more focused on ourselves, but even nervousness can’t mar our unity. Each of us is checking on the others, like a mother fretting over a sick child. Just like that, introductions have come and gone, and I’m on. I want to be the best I’d ever been for my team, but strangely, I feel calmer than ever. I have my clan behind me. Not only am I sure that I won’t fail, it appears that failure doesn’t even exist, as long as I have my family of champions by my side.