09 May Spotlight Series: Rebecca Schleimer
If Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Went to Law School
By Rebecca Schleimer
My heart was beating out of my chest. I kept nervously looking down at the witness statement that I already knew like the back of my hand. Oh boy, how in the world am I going to get through this? Why am I so nervous? I kept asking myself. Don’t get me wrong. Leading up to this point, I had had my fair share of nerve-wracking presentations and performances, but for some reason the moments leading up to my first mock trial audition challenged my emotions like no other experience had done in the past. In the blink of an eye, I saw the guy before me come out of the classroom, laughing to himself and shaking his head. Now it was my turn. My heart accelerated as the two teacher-coaches called for me. My legs stood still. I knew the shy, anxious manner that had always formed my persona would keep me from going into the audition. I had to do something. I had to be someone else. Slowly moving toward the classroom I felt my mind switch. I was Dr. Ricky Sanchez, the confident, 52-year-old prosecution expert who had been in court plenty of times and believed Adderall, not alcohol, to be the cause of Jason Johnson’s death. It was not until I got the email announcing the parts that I realized what had truly happened in that audition room.
[Tweet “”The effect the courtroom had on me was a phenomenon that I would constantly ponder and question””]
For my first two years of my mock trial experience, I felt as if I were a female version of Clark Kent or Dr. Jekyll. I began to have a double identity. Outside of the courtroom I was a shy, silently pensive student, friend, sister, and daughter; inside of the courtroom I became a confident, emotive, loud, and forceful expert witness or defense attorney. The effect the courtroom had on me was a phenomenon that I would constantly ponder and question. I had joined the team simply wanting to become more involved in my school’s community. This incentive completely changed when I walked out of that audition room my sophomore year. Becoming someone else that day gave me a high that I simply could not resist. I wanted to experience again the extraordinary feeling of being someone else and try to unpack it.
When I finally decided to become a defense attorney I felt this high again at a different level. Each time I delivered my emotional and dramatic opening statement I felt as if a different person had taken hold of the steering wheel. Before mock trial I never could have imagined stepping onto any sort of pedestal to make an emotional and forceful presentation. I knew by the end of my junior year season that everything about me had changed and that this newfound duality within me ran deeper than I had previously believed.
[Tweet “”Had I not decided to walk into that audition room, I don’t know who I would be today.””]
By the time my final year of mock trial rolled around and I hesitantly took on the challenging task of delivering the closing statement for the defense, I came to a profound realization. Over the two years I had done mock trial, my identity and personality beyond just the courtroom had undergone radical changes. The duality with which I had begun mock trial just two years earlier in Mr. Shulman’s classroom had completely disappeared by the end of my final season. Mock trial has made me a more confident, adaptive, and outgoing person in more ways than one. The two identities that I had at the beginning of mock trial have combined and unified into the person I am today, and because of that, mock trial has left an indelible mark on my identity and my life. Even if I do not choose to pursue law in the future, mock trial has profoundly influenced my path in life. Had I not decided to walk into that audition room, I don’t know who I would be today. I am honored to have been a part of such an incredible journey with amazing people. I would not change any of my experiences with Torrey Mock Trial for the world.