Zoe Styler, an attorney for the 2019 Whitefish Bay High School mock trial team, examines a witness during the final round at the State Capitol in Madison on March 10, 2019 – the last final round that was held in person prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament returns in person in 2023.
Nov. 16, 2022 – Did a student exploring a forest while camping with friends die by homicide, or was it just a horrible accident?
About 80 high school mock trial teams will explore the facts and prosecute or defend the accused in this year’s State Bar of Wisconsin High School Mock Trial tournament.
The case involves a high school senior camping trip gone wrong near a fictitious Wisconsin town. For over 130 years, the community has been gripped by the legend of the hikers who went missing in Clearwater State Forest. Many have perished in their pursuit of the reward money that awaits the person who solves the mystery of the original hikers’ deaths.
When, on a class camping trip, the area called the Southern Slip claims its latest victim, the people of Clearwater are faced with a new mystery: was the decedent lured into taking all the risk in a desperate effort to have a friend – and to aid that friend’s obsession with obtaining the reward money and the glory? Or did the decedent’s own intentional choices lead to their tragic end?
A Return to In-person for Semifinal and Final Rounds
The mock trial program provides high school students with an opportunity to act as attorneys and witnesses in a court case developed by State Bar members. Students will argue the case in teams of six to 12, first at the regional level, then the top 24 teams will advance to the semifinals.
The top two advance to the finals. The state finalists compete in the
National High School Mock Trial championship in May in Little Rock, Arkansas.
With 85 teams signed up to compete, regional online competitions will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. The state finals competition is in person at the Dane County Courthouse in Madison on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, 2023, with the final round held Sunday, March 5, 2023, in the Wisconsin State Capitol. Because of the pandemic in 2020, the tournaments were canceled just before the finals rounds, and in 2021 and 2022, competitions were held via video. The 2023 season represents a return to in-person competitions for the semifinal and final rounds.
“I am very excited for the trials to return in-person,” said Elleny Christopoulos, Mock Trial chair. “There is nothing like being in a courtroom and presenting your case. I hope the students will be energized by the return of in-person trials.”
New Chair Admits to being ‘Huge Mock Trial Nerd’
“Mock trial is a program that is near and dear to my heart … I am so excited to be a part of this program and to be able to give back to students throughout the state of Wisconsin with the same opportunities I had,” says Elleny Christopoulos, Mock Trial chair.
Christopoulos, in her first year as chair of the State Bar mock trial program, is “admittedly a huge mock trial nerd.”
“Mock trial is a program that is near and dear to my heart, and I am incredibly honored to be taking on my role as chair,” she said.
Christopoulos participated as a student for three years in mock trial at Port Washington High School. Her high school coach fostered her love for the law. Mock trial, she says, is “likely the No. 1 reason I am an attorney today.”
“I am so excited to be a part of this program and to be able to give back to students throughout the state of Wisconsin with the same opportunities I had,” Christopoulos said.
“My hope for students is that they have an amazing experience in this program and that they can develop an appreciation and love for the law that will stay with them throughout their lives.”
Lawyers and Judges Needed as Volunteers
Since 1983, nearly 40,000 high school students from every part of Wisconsin have participated in mock trial. Annually, it takes nearly 450 attorney and judge volunteers.
Volunteers – whether attorneys or judges on the bench – are needed for competitions taking place online in February and in person in March.
Volunteers needed as judges for:
Statewide virtual regional competitions on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.
In person semifinal competitions in Madison on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, 2023. There are two sessions per day, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.
Generally, volunteers choose to be judges for either the morning or afternoon competitions.
The mock trial program is funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Law Foundation, the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Donations to the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Mock Trial Fund can be made online at
The Wisconsin High School Mock Trial program is funded by a generous grant from the
Wisconsin Law Foundation, the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin, supporting law-related education and public service programs statewide.