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The Defense: A Mock Trial Story

By: Emily Polston

Mock Trial is one of the three academic clubs at Jenks High School. It’s simply a competition in which students stimulate a real trial. It teaches things like public speaking, critical thinking, and the art of forming a persuasive, cohesive argument. I joined Mock Trial last year and instantly fell in love with it. Since then, I’ve been willing to speak in public and think more quickly. Whereas before .. I had stage fright so bad to where I’d just freeze and it would take longer to respond immediately with a solid answer. This is the 2018-2019 Mock Trial case this school year. Leave your comment down below and let us know what you think.

Statement of the Case is intended as a summary only and not to be used as evidence in the trial. It is a civil trial focused on the actions of Kai Connely and the death of Hannah Lannister on November 11, 2016. The Defendant Kai Connely is being sued for Wrongful Death, Intentional Infliction of Emotional DIstress, and any other claims supported by the Petition and evidence under Oklahoma law. The suit was brought by Jessie Lannister, parent of Hannah Lannister. Kai Connely is a student, age 18. The primary issue in the case is whether Kai Connely is civilly liable/responsible for Hannah’s death. On the evening of November 11, 2016, Hannah Lannister died in the locker room of her high school gym. In August 2016, Hannah returned to school for her junior year and made the Winchester basketball team and quickly became an important player for the team. Her inclusion on the team resulted in the exclusion of another player. Kai Connely in particular, were displeased with Hannah’s inclusion on the team at the expense of their friend. In the month of so before November 11th, Hannah was treated more harshly than ever before. On November 11th, 2016, the team had just lost another hard fought and close game to a rival school but was the fourth loss in a row. The team was winless to begin the season. In 2015, Winchester High School developed and released an intro-school social media connection app to allow students and teachers to communicate and exchange ideas regarding school-related topics. The app was titled RDEX. The app was used for inappropriate communications between students and was shut down after the passing of Hannah. Winchester officials did not monitor the inter-student communications. Winchester High School is not involved in this matter as a party but the principal for the school is a witness. The other witnesses are the Defendant, the parent of Hannah Lannister, a trainer, and two expert witnesses.

Cameron Myers is one of the witnesses for the defense and has been an athletic trainer for Winchester High School since 2012. He knew Hannah Lannister because she was on the basketball team for the 2016 season. Cameron states that he didn’t know her until 2016 when she joined the basketball team. He’d always thought that Hannah was a very talented basketball player. It was Hannah’s first year to play and he agreed that she earned a spot on the starting line up. Admits that not everyone was excited about hannah’s spot in the starting lineup and that she took the spot from another girl on the team and it caused issues. Also admits to hearing things in the locker room and he states that, “they talk like im not even there”. Cameron admits to hearing kids talk about Hannah and make comments on how she did not fit on the team and did not deserve to be a starter but he never saw anyone say anything directly to her. He stated that he heard rumors relating to trash being thrown in her locker before a game, confronted hannah on it, blew it off, said it was a rumor. He said he noticed she struggled with the basketball schedule since there’s alot of practice and conditioning for the starters. He looked at her chart from her preseason physical and there was no family history of any health or heart conditions. Cameron physically talked to Hannah. She did not report to him any complaints of chest pain of abnormally high heart rate so he didn’t sit her out from playing. He admits looking back, he realizes Hannah was spending a lot of extra time in the training room. She would come in alone and bring her lunch or just spend her free period there. The Danes were playing a rival team and hannah seemed troubled in the warm up or unfocused. He says that she played okay and didn’t see any medical issues during the game. After the game ended, he heard a scream in the girls locker room. He went to check to see what was going on and saw Hannah lying on the ground in front of her locker. Also saw a noose hanging in the locker with a stuffed animal with Hannah’s jersey number written on it. Hannah was unresponsive and had no pulse. Cameron states that there was not anything in the family history that led him to believe she had any cardiac condition. He said “otherwise I would definitely have kept her from playing basketball”.

Cameron Myers does not agree with this lawsuit. He doesn’t think Hannah Lannister was bullied so much that she died from it. In his opinion, he thinks that Hannah did die from sudden cardiac arrest caused by an underlying medical condition.

Kai Connely is the one being sued for Wrongful Death, Intentional Infliction, Emotional Distress and any other claims supported by the Petition and evidence. In her statement, she states that Hannah and her were good friends. She claims that she did nothing wrong. She admits that some of her friends said mean stuff behind Hannah’s back and now that this has all happened, she can’t help but feel terrible about the way they might have treated her. Kai states that she’s always had lots of anxiety about people talking behind her back in the halls or afterschool and this situation doesn’t make her feel any more secure. The first significant thing Kai remembers about Hannah was that she took her friends spot on the basketball team. She said Hannah came back her junior year and as suddenly a really good basketball player and ended up making the varsity team. Kai admits that she didn’t like her for that reason but also says that she never wanted Hannah to die. She thought it was unfair for Hannah to just waltze onto the team and take her friends spot the way she did. Kai said that she tried to be supportive of Hannah, eventually. She gave Hannah some workout equipment because she knew Hannah wouldn’t have any of that. Kai states that she never did anything mean to Hannah directly for her stealing her friends spot. She knows that the noose that was found in her locker was the same type of material that Kai gave her but she states that she “didn’t do that”. She says that a lot of people were mean to Hannah on RDEX and that she’s not sure if she said anything on there but she’s sure that IF she did, it wouldn’t have been anything bad. She thinks that it’s obvious now that she was taking some of the stuff on there to heart. “If her family wants to say that I bullied her, then they need to look around and see all the other people who said mean things to Hannah.” Kia says that a lot of people have been horrible to her since the whole incident has happened. She says that nobody can make somebody drop dead from a heart attack and that she never meant for anything really bad to happen. “Besides that noose in her locker did the most damage apparently.” Kai admits to referring to Hannah as the “Hulk” but she thought that Hannah liked the reference and that’s why she used it. Admits to sending her messages on her phone and through RDEX but says that nothing she said was worse than what others were saying.

You can find the text messages between Hannah and Kai on page 48-49, exhibit 3. You can find RDEX messages on page 54-55, exhibit 6. These documents are both most likely going to be entered into the courtroom as evidence in the trial. Therefore the plaintiff and defense can ask the witnesses about it in their Direct and Cross examination.

Drue Ellis has been retained on behalf of the defendant. He states that his opinions are based strictly on his own investigation, his independent review of the relevant materials and his professional experience. He believes his conclusion is supported by the evidence and information gathered to date. He is aware that Penn Everett disagrees with his opinion. Everett is another expert witness for the Plaintiff. He believes that she had several undisclosed, undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, factors going on in her life that increased her risk for Sudden Unexpected Death. He can’t say for certain but he strongly believes that had others known about her underlying risk factors, proper intervention may have resulted in a different outcome. Ellis has reviewed Hannah’s diary, several text messages, two documents for Winchester High School’s investigation into reported bullying and also relevant RDEX posts and pages from Winchester High School related to Hannah and the report from Penn Everett. He does agree that there was bullying, teasing, and other conduct by several individuals, including Kai Connely, that was socially unacceptable. He states that her reported fatigue, her struggles with coping as evidenced in her diary, and the internalization of adverse conditions she faced all support the presence of a heart condition. It should be beyond dispute that Hannah Lannister died from a heart attack .. but what caused it? Ellis thinks that the only conclusion is a natural heart attack.

Drue Ellis’s report is exhibit 8. It tells all of his qualifications, professional affiliations, the documents that he’s reviewed, his personal assessment and conclusion about this investigation.

This was the defense’s side of the case of the Mock Trial case 2018-2019. If you’d like to hear about the Plaintiff’s side, stay tuned.

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