FSU’s Mock Trial program is the perfect spot for those wishing to one day be a lawyer or just want to show off their acting skills. It is currently run by Fernando Yzquierdo, the president of the program. The junior has worked his way up to being president and has been competing since freshman year of high school. From fundraising coordinator to tournament director, the now president dives into the mechanics of the program and what this year looks like.
Her Campus (HC): What is mock trial?
Fernando Yzquierdo (FY): Mock Trial is a simulated legal activity in which teams from across the country compete against each other in a criminal or civil trial. There are three attorneys and three witnesses per side, and the case we use at competition is authored by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA).
HC: What does a typical year look like for you?
FY: The competitive season really starts in mid-August, when AMTA releases the case we’ll be competing with that year. Once the case is released, we all hurry to figure out witness call orders and case theories; at the same time, we host tryouts shortly after case drop to welcome new members into the program. At the conclusion of tryouts, we teach all of our incoming members the rules of evidence before sending them off to compete at a variety of fall competitions. Come the start of the spring semester, AMTA will release case changes that substantially alter facts of the case, and we only have about three weeks with the new fact pattern before we attend our regional competition, followed by our ORCs competition. If we’re lucky, we win ORCs and make it to Nationals, where we’ll try a completely new case for a new competition!
HC: How has the team had to adjust during the pandemic?
FY: Because of the pandemic, we’ve had to move all trials and competitions online. All of our practices have also been moved online. Competing over Zoom is definitely a learning process, but it allows us to use fun PowerPoint demonstratives and do things we’ve never been able to do before in an in-person trial.
HC: How did you first get involved with FSU’s Mock Trial program?
FY: I knew, after having done mock trial for four years in high school, that I’d want to continue it in college. I tried out my freshman year and made the program!
HC: When you first joined did you see yourself as president?
FY: I knew that I wanted to be involved in the program’s leadership from the get-go; mock trial is such an enormous and important part of my life that I knew I wanted to help manage this program. But I never saw myself as president of the whole shebang, especially not during my sophomore year. The position opened up, though, and I was encouraged to run. As they say, the rest is history.
HC: What is something you have gained through your experience?
FY: People usually brag about mock trial giving you public speaking experience, improving your writing ability and gaining confidence — all of this is true, don’t get me wrong, but the most valuable thing I’ve gained from my time in this program is the friendships. I know it’s cheesy, but I really can’t imagine what my life would be like without the amazing people I have met in this program.
HC: What would you say to someone who was thinking of joining?
FY: We’re always looking for new, bright-eyed members to give us a fresh perspective! Tryouts are hosted annually in late-August. There’s no previous public speaking experience required! All we’re looking for is confidence, poise, a good work ethic and a strong sense of self.