Mock trials do more than simulate a real trial for educational purposes for you: they make you dog tired. I have no words to describe the sense of exhaustion I feel as I type this. Robert interpreted all day, and I was the supportive partner on the sidelines, silently cheering him on as well as experiencing the whole process from the outside, looking in. Having only just experienced my first bout of jury duty this past January, I wasn't exactly squirming in my seat to become one of the volunteer jurors. So I played pure spectator/interpreter observer. The mock trial consisted of a fictional murder case, in which some crazy rich woman was on trial for having shot and killed her husband. Sort of a bad murder mystery/suspense novel brought to life for the benefit of law students. All the details were sort of vague, which allowed the law students acting as defense and prosecution to get pretty creative when it came to tactics they used to approach the case. For instance: one of the prosecution teams I watched created a 3-D animation of how the scene went down, and looped it on a big projector. A defense team I saw used the upper half of a mannequin with arrows placed throughout to show how the bullets had entered and behaved on the victim. (Thankfully, the judge ixnayed that one before they could get too into it.)
It was funny to watch how the students played off one another. If they were having a difficult time, or else were doing better than they expected, they couldn't help but grin. Which looks hilarious, given the "seriousness" of the issues they're discussing. (Imagine hearing the following line delivered with a slight grin on a lawyer's face: "So you grabbed the gun off the table and shot your husband four times." Nice.) The judges, too, showed more emotion than I'd ever actually seen a judge show. At times, I caught them smiling at what the students were saying or doing. When the jury was deliberating, the judges got to give feedback to the law students, and damn. Off went the robes, and suddenly they were human! Not to mention witty and humorous.
It's a good thing I wasn't a member of the jury, because the entire time, I was forming all sorts of biases and opinions about what happened. The heartless bitch killed her husband! The dumbass detective should get fired! And just how low are all these witnesses IQs, geez? At one point, I felt an urge to jump up and interrupt the whole proceeding and announce to the courtroom that one of the jurors was asleep. But then I realized that probably wouldn't be very kosher. And besides, the sleeping juror was pretty obvious. It's hard to miss a guy with his chin resting in his palm, leaning forward, doing the trying-to-stay-awake headbang made famous by college students. The drooling, however, was probably the biggest giveaway.
Stranger still, than all things noted above, was what happened during the short ten-minute recesses from the trial. Maybe it was all the sitting. Or maybe it was the amount of brainpower it took to keep up with everything. Whatever the reason, every single break we had found me making a bee line for the restroom. I found I wasn't the only one, either. Every break, the place was full of people from the courtroom. And it didn't matter what they were doing, be it sitting in one of the stalls, using one of the urinals, washing hands, whatever, there was always some conversation taking place. The first time, there was a guy drying his hands (witness actor), a guy peeing (student lawyer), and a guy taking care of more serious matters (student lawyer, presumably) all immersed in conversation about the trial. I guess that's what you do when you're not allowed to talk about anything outside the courtroom.