The basics: In Mock Trial competitions, teams of attorneys and witnesses compete against like teams from other undergraduate. AMTA (the board that oversees college-level mock trial) creates a fictional “case” each year (alternating between civil and criminal in nature) which includes witness affidavits and physical evidence as well as rules of evidence, etc. Eight-person teams work to prepare both sides of each case to present before practicing attorneys and judges who score the teams on the strength of their presentation. In a given tournament, each team will present its plaintiff (or prosecution) side twice and its defense side twice, with three attorneys and three witnesses competing in each trial.
We are an entirely student-run program geared towards legal education and the development of public speaking and presentation skills. Though we don’t have an attorney coach, in recent years, we’ve been fortunate enough to receive numerous regional titles and have competed in national competitions annually. Because of the exceptional performances by teams in the past few years, sending at least one if not two teams to Nationals has become our precedent.
The logistics: At Dartmouth , we participate in
competitions in the fall and in the winter terms. All new members, as well as many veterans, compete in an invitational tournament in November. This year, we will be competing at a tournament hosted by Harvard and at a tournament hosted by Brandeis. Before these tournaments, this year’s officers (a group of five students elected the previous spring) conduct tryouts and then assemble teams. Then, in the winter, participants are arranged into new teams which compete at regional tournaments in February. The teams that qualify out of regional tournaments then travel to one of several National Competitions in across the country in the late winter or early spring.
How big a time commitment is it?
Mock trial is what we make of it. The more time that we put in on the preparation side, the higher our scores will be on the competition side. Participants can expect to have one team meeting per week as well as one practice trial every week starting four weeks before competition. In addition, Mock Trial does require individual work as well as meetings of attorney-witness pairs. In general, members expect about eight hours of work in an average week, but that amount of work increases significantly as teams approach competition. While this may seem like a lot, we promise you that it’s lots of fun as well! Mock trial is a social as well as an academic scene and we have a lot of fun together.
How many spots are open?
We field four teams for each tournament in the fall and winter. Teams consist of eight members, both attorneys and witnesses. In the fall, each team will have two captains, who are returning members, and then six new members. In the winter, some new members inevitably drop out, and we cut a few people, leaving room for more returning veterans. Even if we can’t find a formal place for you on a team, you’ll still be able to come to our meetings and social events.
What about tryouts?
Tryouts will be conducted on September 29th and 30th, 2008. They are a chance to catch a quick glimpse of your speaking, argumentative, and acting skills. Tryouts will be judged by some or all of the officers (depending on availability) and the officers will make team decisions. Tryouts will use materials from this year’s case. We encourage everyone who wants to try out for an attorney role to also try out for a witness role as well.
To prepare for a lawyer's tryout, we ask that all candidates read a reduced version of the case and prepare a three-minute opening statement and a cross-examination of a particular witness. Students who choose to try out for a witness position will be asked to study one of several witness affidavits and assume that role during a direct-examination and a cross-examination.
How do I find out more information?
If you’re curious and want to find out more, there are plenty of resources at your disposal. Browse around the Dartmouth Mock Trial website and be sure to check out the AMTA website in the Links
section. Be sure to give us your name, somehow, so we know you’re interested. You can e-mail us at email@example.com
or sign up at our booth at the Activities Fair. We’ll keep you updated about various times and dates to be aware of.