The University of Rochester's Mock Trial Team placed among the top six teams in the American Mock Trial Association's Opening Round Championship, earning the team a bid to the National Championship Tournament in April. Peter Dierkes '11 also received an Outstanding Attorney Award for his performance at the March 21 tournament.
Seventeen undergraduate students participate in the University's Mock Trial organization and represent themselves as two teams at several regional and national competitions throughout the year. This is the first time in the group's history that both teams have made it to the opening round and the second time in four years that one Rochester team has qualified for the national championship. Eight members of the group will represent Rochester at competition.
Because Rochester's team does not have a faculty coach, they rely on the most experienced members for guidance, making their achievements all the more remarkable. "This is definitely a competition that requires a lot of preparation and rewards teams that prepare well, but also demands the ability to think on your feet," said Brittany Crowley '10, who has been a team member since her freshman year.
Crowley explained that mock trial competitions use a hypothetical case scenario to test a team's knowledge of courtroom procedures, mastery of case facts, and ability to examine witnesses and deliver opening and closing remarks. Teams must prepare both prosecution and defense arguments and practice by acting out different courtroom proceedings, taking on the roles of witness, prosecution lawyer, and defense lawyer.
"Mock trial is almost like putting on a play, except people ad lib their lines and interrupt you," said Andrew Cashmore '10, the group's president. "We try to script to the best of our ability, but we also have to be prepared to respond quickly to new developments."
Possibly the most exciting new development for the Rochester team is heading to nationals, which will pit them against some of the best teams in the country. Attending the tournament, which will be held April 16 to 18 in Memphis, Tenn., is one way Rochester is proving itself to the mock trial community.
"We're really trying to get our name out there and solidify longevity for the program," Crowley said.