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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Trial team trains for Nationals

    Trial team trains for Nationals

    With a national competition only days away, the members of the UA Mock Trial team are taking to the court – the courtroom, that is.

    The UA Mock Trial team will head to Des Moines, Iowa this weekend, April 17-19, along with 48 other teams from universities around the country to compete in the National Mock Trial Competition hosted by the American Mock Trial Association.

    This will be the third time in seven years that the club has gone to Nationals. The last time was in 2006, when the team took third place.

    “”(The National competition) is a big chance for us to do well,”” said political science sophomore Michael Devereaux, the club’s president. “”We expect to do fairly well. We’re a really young team still but we expect to fare fairly well.””

    Most of the team’s eight members are freshmen or sophomores, and most have their sights set on careers as lawyers, Devereaux said.

    “”Most everyone who does this wants to do something in that direction,”” Devereaux said. “”(Mock Trial) really does give you a good chance to learn those skills, especially with evidence, rules of objections, things like that. You really get a good grasp so when you start taking classes in law school you already have a firm grasp of the material.””

    In the competition, one school’s team represents the defense and the opposing team represents the plaintiff in a case prepared in advance by AMTA. Each team member plays a certain role, such as attorney or witness. Then, the opposing teams switch sides so both teams get a chance to play both parts.

    Although the teams know about the case in advance, the competitions are still challenging, said Verlaine Walker, pre-law advisor and advisor to the team.

    “”It’s kind of like playing chess, only it’s on your feet and it’s verbal,”” Walker said. “”You’ve got to be able to think fast and speak coherently enough to make a case and be convincing.””

    Last year’s national competition was won by the University of St. Francis, which is located in Joliet, Ill.

    Because “”witnesses”” are scored on their ability to play their roles, the competition requires a fair amount of acting skill in addition to legal knowledge, said psychology sophomore Alyssa Morris, who will play the role of a TV network producer being accused of libel.

    Morris said that she originally had no interest in pursuing a law career, but after joining the club this year, she said, “”Now I kinda do.””

    The club is working on a program that would allow drama students to receive one unit of independent study credit for participating in the club, said international studies freshman Megan Reed.

    Mock Trial is also a good place to learn skills you can use outside of the courtroom, said Casey McGinley, Deputy Pima County Attorney and the team’s head coach.

    “”You learn problem-solving, teamwork, public speaking skills, analytical thinking, things that really carry over into a variety of jobs,”” McGinley said.

    For now, the team is focusing on the trial at hand.

    “”I’m really pumped for (the competition),”” Reed said. “”It’s just exciting that we’re competing at such a high level. I definitely would say we’re underdogs, but I think we can hold our own and it’ll be an awesome experience.””

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