Lauren Yung is an award-winning member of the Justin-Siena High School mock trial team, but she didn’t argue with the team and isn’t an aspiring attorney.
Yung is an artist.
In late March, the high school senior was named the state’s best courtroom artist at the California state high school mock trial finals in Sacramento.
Yung executed her winning drawing of Justin-Siena senior Mary Cate Hyde cross-examining a student-witness from Amador High School in Pleasanton as the trial between the two schools unfolded.
The mock trial, People v. Klein, involved internet bullying, criminal threats and a “swatting” — a false emergency report to authorities designed to have a SWAT team burst in on the innocent victim.
Yung, who lives in American Canyon, said she had just finished her college applications to art schools this past fall when she heard that the mock trial team was looking for student courtroom artists to join the team.
With her applications out of the way, “I thought it’d be fun to try,” said Yung. “I thought it sounded interesting” because “you have to draw a whole scene in a short amount of time and I like the challenge.”
“We were thrilled when Lauren asked to join us as our artist,” said Justin-Siena mock trial coach Alan Charles “Chuck” Dell’Ario. “Lauren’s work epitomizes good artistry in the courtroom and we’re proud of her and her accomplishment.”
Yung, who is primarily a digital artist, said working as a courtroom artist “was completely new” to her.
In high school art classes, “the emphasis is more on having an original voice or idea but in courtroom art you’re supposed to just capture the scene” as it is, she said.
She used pen and ink during the courtroom art competition, which was another switch. Unlike digital artwork, “You can’t just ‘undo’” a line or pen stroke, she said. “It’s a different way of working.”
While at the state competition, Yung attended a courtroom artist workshop hosted by a professional courtroom artist.
“It helped me,” she said. “It strengthened my idea (that) the focus is capturing a story rather than the details of the room.”
To do that, Yung said she tried to emphasize body language and expression. When illustrating emotion on a face, “I think it’s all in the eyebrows,” she said. “You can move the eyebrows and the expression changes completely.”
During the two-hour mock trial, Yung did several initial sketches and then chose one to finalize with more detail.
While waiting to hear which of the 20 other artists had placed first in the competition, “I was super nervous,” but her teammates were confident she’d won, said Yung.
After hearing she was indeed the winner, “I was excited and glad that I didn’t disappoint them.”
Besides being an artist, Yung is also a strong student: her GPA last semester was 4.7. Among other classes, she’s currently enrolled in AP calculus, AP art, AP chemistry and AP Mandarin.
Her favorite class at Justin-Siena, Yung happens to be calculus.
Her interest in math has actually contributed to her artwork, said Yung. “In math you have to find creative ways to solve problem and it’s pretty much the same in art.”
After graduation, Yung said she plans to enroll at the Rhode Island School of Design where she’ll major in illustration. Ultimately, she hopes to illustrate stories in either comics or movies.
One of her favorite artists is Celine Kim, who works at DreamWorks Animation. “I like her style and her story ideas.”
Yung said a dream job to her would be working on something like the 2018 Spider Man movie “Into the Spider-Verse.” That movie combines comics and movies “which are both art styles I love.”
Joining the mock trial team was a good experience, Yung said. Besides good drawing practice, “you get to bond with the team even though you are doing completely different things. You are all together and one.”
At the Sacramento competition, the Justin-Siena team won two of its four trials and finished 19th out of 36 teams.
Editor's note: this story has been modified to add the name of the school Yung will attend next year.