Mock Trial debates in regional competition: Team and new club debuts at Williamsburg while club president Williams earns prestigious award

mock trial regional competition photoBy Nicole Noce

Elm Staff Writer

The weekend of Feb. 16-17, Washington College’s Mock Trial team went 1 and 3 at their first regional competition hosted by the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

“ This is is a great performance for a brand- new team,” sophomore Holly Williams, president, said.

Williams was one recipient of the Outstanding Attorney Award, as the second highest scoring attorney in the competition.

Mock Trial is an organization of students who prepare hypothetical legal cases by debating amongst themselves and against other colleges and universities.

For the first round, the team argued for the defense on the case they had been studying for the months preceding the competition. On the second round, the tables turned and they represented the plaintiff.

The competition began at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday with an opening ceremony. Teams then competed in two rounds that were 3 to 4 hours each.

Sunday followed in the same format, with two rounds and then closing ceremonies.

“Before each round, there is a captains meeting in which two captains from each team decide the witnesses that will be called and demonstratives (courtroom visuals) that will be presented at trial,” said sophomore Alejandro Mendoza.

From there, the operation proceeds following the general trial process.

“This is a simplified outline of the round: Intro, pre-trial, opening statements, plaintiff witnesses and defense cross, defense witness- es and plaintiff cross, closing arguments,” Mendoza said.

Both the plaintiff and defense have seven team members — three attorneys, three witnesses, and a timekeeper.

“[As a witness], my job was to basically answer the questions of my attorney (in this case, Mendoza) before then being cross-examined by the opposing side,” said freshman Theo Barry.

Williams elaborated on her position as the attorney and the multiple responsibilities it holds.

“Attorneys have to direct and cross-examine witnesses, and possibly give an opening statement or closing argument. All roles incorporate elements of public speaking, debate, and performance as well as learning the nuances of trial law,” she said.

While the team will not be advancing to the opening round championship competition, they had a strong showing for WC.

“Many other of our team members came very close to the point margin to rank. They have shown tremendous growth and dedication and I cannot be more thrilled with our first year,” Williams said.

Other team members agreed that attend- ing regionals was rewarding and was a great bonding experience for the team.

“Besides the competition, it was a privilege to compete with some of the best teams in the nation and to spend time bonding with the teammates,” Mendoza said.

Barry mirrored that sentiment, and said, “I think being in such a high stakes environment really brought the team a lot closer together.”

Looking to next year, the Mock Trial team plans to attend a scrimmage in the fall as well as returning to the regional competition.

From being approved as a special interest group last semester to becoming a club and attending the regional competition this semester, the club appears to be gaining momentum.

Despite competing against large institutions like the University of Maryland or Rutgers University with established Mock Trial programs, Barry finds the challenge to be intimidating but not impossible.

“[Mock Trial is] not an easy program, but it’s incredibly fun and incredibly rewarding,” Barry said.

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