November 7, 2017
For some students, high school debate teams offered the chance to learn public speaking and debating skills. At UCCS, these skills can be furthered through participation in the Mock Trial Team.
The Mock Trial Team offers students the chance to practice their critical thinking and public speaking skills at mock trial events and tournaments.
Students have the opportunity to be involved with criminal and civil case work through the team, which prepares students to compete in local and regional competitions.
To prepare for tournaments, the team is assigned a case at the beginning of the year, according to junior international business major Felina Gentile is a member of the Mock Trial club. Members create arguments for both sides in the case.
“[The club] then competes at different events throughout the school year and into next semester. We go to scrimmages, depending on who’s hosting them in the area, and we can travel to different states,” said Gentile.
If the Mock Trial club is judged to have made a better argument than the competing team, they can progress to the regional competition which takes place in February.
Students can fill and try out for three roles on the team: defense, prosecution and witness.
The defense lawyer represents the accused and provides defense and council for their client. The prosecution represents the victim or party who is bring the lawsuit against the accused.
The witnesses serve to testify to what they saw or believe concerning the circumstances of the case. Students who play this role memorize their character’s story and statements, which are given in their affidavits, to help frame the case.
“[W]e run through questions, evidence, who said what and if there was any contradicting information we can try to get through so we can figure out who has a stronger case,” said Gentile.
All intercollegiate mock trail competitions in the U.S. are governed by the American Mock Trial Association, which assigns cases for team to study for the competition.
Founded in 1985, AMTA hosts 25 regional tournaments, eight opening-round tournaments and a national championship tournament each season, according to their website. Around 600 teams, which total 5,300 students, from 350 universities and college compete.
Gentile believes that the skills she learned in Mock Trial have given her a better understanding of law and valuable real-life experience.
“I’m taking business law this semester, and I realized that all the material [the professor] is going over in class, I have seen and done in mock trial,” she said.
“If you ever have to do something with debate, it helps in little ways you wouldn’t think it would. I got called for jury duty and we had to watch this educational video, and I had already watched in in the club, so I felt more prepared.”
The team meets Wednesday nights from 7:20 – 9:35 p.m. and Friday nights at 6 – 9 p.m. For more information on the Mock Trial Team, visit their Mountain Lion Connect page at orgsync.com/74848/chapter.