Alright, I know it has been like three weeks since I promised you a glimpse into the whirlwind that is mock trial. The Luther mock trial team was scheduled to go to a friendly tournament last J-term but unavoidable circumstances meant we had to cancel the trip. However, the Luther team took a trip last weekend all the way to Cedar Rapids to compete in the regional mock trial tournament. We went against some of the top mock trial teams in the region and did exceptionally well. Before jumping into the tournament, let me just give a brief description of what mock trial is.
I will admit when I first went to one of the Luther mock trial meetings last J-term I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Mock trial is essentially a pretend court case argued by the prosecution and the defense. Just like in real life, there is a judge to preside over the court proceedings, making sure the rules are upheld. The main difference though is that the judges give scores on the performance of the attorneys and witnesses, and does not pass a verdict at the end. On that very first day I was handed over 50 pages of case material which I was supposed to read and understand. Second confession… I didn’t actually read the whole thing....
The Luther mock trial team has excellent and intelligent members. By the time, I had joined the case, arguments had already been set up and written down. So in a way I had it easy. With the team’s guidance and help I was given the chance of being an attorney on prosecution with the task of giving the opening statement. Without their many reassurances throughout the process, I would have gone blank and stumbled through a weak performance like I did in one of the dress rehearsals we had.
Anyways, back to the tournament. Like I mentioned earlier, this was the regional tournament. Out of the 25 teams, 8 would then go on to the next round and eventually end up in the national tournament. Unfortunately, Luther did not make it out of the regional tournament, but we were competing against universities with law programs, some of them having three teams competing. However, we gave a good fight and came very close to going over to the second round, missing it by a mere few points.
We also had a fun surprise at the last round of the tournament. The presiding judge and jury were exceptionally well versed in the rules of the court. There was one instance when the presiding judge denied a motion, just because the right words were not used… a rare occurrence in mock trial and in real life. At the end we found that the judge and jury on that round were the founders of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), the governing body of the mock trial competition. Both of them praised the Luther team attorneys and the witnesses for their fierce defensive display of the case. One of them made a confession that the scores were the highest he had given in years.
All in all, mock trial was a fun learning experience. I learned a lot about the American judicial system and court proceedings. The team I was with was filled with amazing and exceptionally talented individuals. Something which really hurt at the end was that it was the final tournament for a number of seniors on the team. It will be sad next year when I will not be able to see their friendly faces three times a week at the mock trial practice. One thing I know for sure though, is that the mock trial team will keep getting bigger, stronger, and better with each passing year.
Until next time,