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Mock Trial takes the stands for another semester

Courtesy of Tiffany Pelmont for The University of Arizona Mock Trial | The Daily Wildcat (Left to right) University of Arizona Mock Trial team members Max DiBaise, Jessica Lange, Adrian Ford and Isaac Rounseville compete in the Gunslinger Tournament on Nov. 11, 2017 at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court in Tucson, Ariz. The UA Mock Trial team competes at tournaments all over the country throughout the fall semester and then competes at Regionals, the Open Round Championship competition and Nationals during the spring semester.

Starting off their meeting with bagels for everyone, Mock Trial University of Arizona meets in the James E. Rogers College of Law. On Saturday mornings, 56 members gather and discuss the fictional case that was created by the American Mock Trial Association; this year's case is Midland Television Studios v. Danny Kosack

Mock Trial has members participate in several roles, acting as everything from witnesses to lawyers. It aims to foster a learning community where students improve their knowledge of law and how to argue in court. 

The UA group has their own term for their members: "mockers," according to this years Mock Trial President Raad Syed. Syed is a fifth-year senior studying Industrial Engineering with a minor in Mathematics.

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They started their season earlier this year by hosting recruitment events, according to Syed. The first informational meeting was on Aug. 27 at the James E. Rogers College of Law. They followed this up with a second meeting on Aug. 29.

After the informational meetings they hosted an Improv/Game Night on Sept. 4, which was followed by a social fundraiser at Gentle Ben’s, Syed said. They followed that with a movie night. Their recruitment season concluded with a returner scrimmage and a "newbie" social on Sept. 9.

“What we look for in new members is dedication … making sure they are willing to learn. Stubbornness is probably the worst thing you can have, [as well as] unwillingness to work with other people and get out of your comfort zone,” Syed said.

Though his hobby and major don’t necessarily align, participating in Mock Trial helps Syed break from the norm, he said. 

University of Arizona Mock Trial Treasurer Audrie Ford prepares to give a cross examination of the opposing team’s witness during the Gunslinger Tournament on Nov. 11, 2017 at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court in Tucson, Ariz. Mock Trial teams must prepare a full court case to compete with at each competition.

“I did Speech and Debate in high school, and I’m an Engineering major, so I think [my] public speaking skills set me apart from other candidates,” Syed said.

Mock Trial starts off their meetings with announcements, and then they move into a presentation on a law topic relating to the case. The presenters are law school students, MTUA alumni or professional lawyers. Then they break up into their separate teams and discuss strategies. 

This year MTUA has four teams that will compete in tournaments. Each team has seven to eight members, with many reserves. The teams are led by two team captains each, according to Syed.

MTUA participates in several tournaments throughout the year. In late October, they will be attending tournaments held in Ohio and Georgia. In November, they will be hosting their fourth annual tournament – all in preparation for the finals. 

This year, UA Mock Trial will host their Gunslinger Tournament on Nov. 17 at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court. Teams scheduled to attend include UCLA and UC Berkeley, including two teams from our own MTUA, Syed explained.

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“This club was formed in 2002, so that’s 16 years now. It was formed by a then-undergrad student and he moved on to become a coach of the program,” Syed said. 

Last year UA Mock Trial had five teams that competed throughout the year. Two of these teams then moved on to compete in the Opening Round Championships. 

Though MTUA only made it to the ORCs for the first time last year, they plan to keep improving and striving for the National Championship Tournament, which will be held in early 2019. 

Joanna Jandali of the University of Arizona’s Mock Trial team gives a cross examination of an opposing team’s witness during the Gunslinger Tournament on Nov. 11, 2017 at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court in Tucson, Ariz. Jandali is currently the UA Mock Trial Tournament Director, meaning that she is in charge of organizing and planning the program’s own competition, the Gunslinger Tournament.

Last year's Mock Trial alumni are either currently attending or on track to attend law school in the near future. Of the nine seniors that graduated, five are currently attending a post-graduate school, three are employed and one is currently coaching MTUA during her gap year. 

“My favorite experience in Mock Trial so far has definitely been competing at a competition at Northern Illinois University near Chicago, Ill. with my first team last fall," said Heather Newberry, who is now in her second year of Mock Trial. "It was my first competition as a member of Mock Trial, and I learned so much from the competition.”

Newberry is a second year "mocker." She is a junior at UA and is double majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a double minor in Philosophy and German. For her, mock trial is a place to "get feedback from real-life judges and lawyers." 

“To this day, I have learned so much from Mock Trial that has translated invaluably into both my classes and my law internship that I never would have had without it,” Newberry said.

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Mock Trial is a community that provides a way to gain "invaluable courtroom experience," according to Newberry. 

Mock Trial presents professional and practical scenarios, that aim to help improve public speaking and build teamwork skills. MTUA is full of students of all majors, from Engineering to Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law.

Follow MTUA on their Facebook page or their website to stay updated on upcoming events.

Follow Vinamra Kumar on Twitter 

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