by Dennis Dalman
The Sartell High School Mock Trial Team scored a series of successes March 3-4 at the statewide Mock Trial Competition at Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul.
In its 30-year history, it was the first time a Sartell team represented Region I in state competition.
Two team members were accorded All-State honors – Kali Killmer for her role as a lawyer, Jasmine Engstrom-Bolstad for her role as a witness.
The team was also presented with the Region 1 championship trophy.
For its mock trial, the Sartell team chose the notorious kidnapping case of William Hamm Jr. from 1933. On June 15 of that year, Hamm, the president of Theodore Hamm’s Brewery in St. Paul, was grabbed by some men who forced him into a waiting car. At the time, Hamm was walking home from his brewery for a lunch break.
Hamm was whisked off to Wisconsin and forced to sign four ransom notes demanding a total of $100,000. Then Hamm was squirreled away to Illinois to sit and wait until the ransom was paid. He was shut up in a boarded-up room, given magazines to read and Hamm’s beer to drink.
After all kinds of shady and almost comical shenanigans, a ransom was paid and Hamm was dropped off unharmed on the side of a road near Wyoming, Minn. three days after his kidnapping. The perpetrators, members of the infamous Barker-Karpis crime gang, were later nabbed. They’d been caught via fingerprints on the ransom bills that had all been treated with silver nitrate, the first time the FBI had ever used that silver-nitrate method of capturing fingerprints on money.
At the tournament, Sartell competed against defending and current state champion Nova Classical Academy of St. Paul and also against Luverne High School and Pequot Lakes High School.
For the past eight years, Adam Vande Vrede, a police liaison officer for the school district, has been the coach-advisor for the Sartell Mock Trial Team.
“This was a tremendous experience for our team to be able to represent Region 1 at the state tournament,” Vande Vrede said. “The knowledge and experience the team gained was hands-down the best. I hope they will use this experience to build upon themselves a firm foundation. The entire team worked hard this year, and I credit all of them for getting us as far as we did this year.”
Vande Vrede had special praise for team captain Bridge Maas and Nicole Yang, as well as the attorney coach, Jessie Sogge of Sartell. Sogge is an attorney for the St. Cloud-based law firm of Jovanovich, Kadlec & Athmann. She has been attorney coach for the Sartell team for the past two years.