The UR Mock Trial team placed second this past weekend in the Finger Lakes Regional Tournament, which was held in Syracuse. Their win this weekend automatically gives them a bid to the Gold Nationals Championship tournament. This is the first year they have qualified for nationals, although they have attended the regional tournament for the past eight years.

“Attending this tournament allows for the Mock Trial team to compete on a national level and gives us a chance for national ranking and recognition, both for our team members and for the University,” President of Mock Trial and junior Jennifer Mikels said.

Mock Trial is an SA-funded group on campus that was established roughly seven to eight years ago and is dedicated to the practice of trial work. To prepare for their competitions throughout the year, the team receives case materials from the American Mock Trial Association, which consist of witness statements, statutes, case law and physical evidence. Examples of physical evidence are things such as letters, charts, maps, photographs, etc.

After receiving the materials, the team begins to construct a case for the defense and for the plaintiff, each side consisting of three attorneys and three witnesses. Trials consist of opening and closing statements, as well as two types of examination, direct examination and cross examination. Direct examination is when one side calls their own witness to examine, while cross examination is when one side’s witness is questioned by the opposing side. The witnesses must memorize their character statements, known as affidavits, and attorneys must memorize their questions and statements.

“Putting together a mock trial is very time consuming, especially without the help of a coach,” Mikels said. “Practice consists of brainstorming case theory and strategy and practicing our questions, objections and performance. We practiced nine to 10 hours a week during first semester and 10 to 15 hours a week second semester.”

For the Finger Lakes Regional Tournament, there were 20 teams present from Harvard, Cornell, MIT, Hamilton, Brown, Colgate, Binghamton, Buffalo, St. Bonaventure and Syracuse. There were four rounds in the tournament; in the first round versus Buffalo, UR won 2-0. The second tournament saw UR competing against Harvard, which UR also won 2-0. In both the third and fourth tournaments, UR split the ballot with Harvard, meaning one judge chose UR and the other judge chose Harvard. Overall, UR came in second place with a score of 6-2, with the Harvard team from the fourth round taking first with a score of 7-1.

The next step for the team is nationals, and UR already has their bid.

“[Nationals] is the highest level of Mock Trial tournaments in the country and only 64 teams qualify to go,” Mikels said. “There is a silver level of nationals, where teams go to compete for a chance to attend the tournament we have already qualified for.”

The seven students that will be attending the Gold Nationals Championship tournament are Mikels, Business Manager Benjamin Wilkinson, Secretary Amy Bishop, Publicist Megan Moran, Jason Novak, Andrew Cashmore and Brittany Crowley.

Although these students have made it through regionals and now have the opportunity to attend nationals, there may be a problem of funding for the trip.

“This tournament has not been budgeted for, but we are working with the school to try and find funding,” Mikels said.Halusic is a member of the class of 2010.



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