Saint Paul Trials

This past weekend, I participated in my first Mock Trial Tournament! Saint Paul Trials were hosted on Friday, Saturday and Sunday here at Hamline University. We hosted teams from the University of Minnesota, St. Thomas, Macalester, St. Olaf and many others. I was super worried about this tournament as it would be the first one I had ever done and I really wanted it to go well. I also tried to be realistic and understand that my team was composed of mostly first-year students and nobody had ever done mock trial in the past. Due to shake-ups and people quitting the team leading up to the trials, we had a smaller team, requiring everyone to fulfill multiple roles for the weekend ahead. 

If you don’t know how Mock Trial works, here’s a brief rundown of the basics. Every school that participates gets the case for the season. You get assigned roles, either attorney or witness, and prepare your role (or roles) during practice. At the tournaments, we simulate a trial with another school and try to score points by performing your role to the best of your ability. Part of the fun is dressing the part. Since we need to dress up like real attorneys , I needed to go shopping for business professional attire. Author in the dressing room after finding an outfit! Photo credit Evelyn Harrison.

After a brief opening ceremony, it was time to begin. We stopped at the table in GLC to get our room number and then started prepping the room. After the trial that night, I was really overwhelmed but also surprised at how well it went. I was expecting our team to not do as well because of nerves and inexperience, but as the weekend went on we got stronger and stronger. By the end I felt satisfied with my performance and how well we did, all considered. 

Over the course of the weekend, we did four trials. Two were defense and two were prosecution. My role for the defense trials was witness, and for the prosecution I was the closing attorney. For our upcoming trial in South Carolina, which takes place November 15th through the 18th, I only have one role, which is witness for the defense. These trials are similar to a real trial, only shorter. During a trial, each team gets an opening statement, three witnesses and a closing statement. Each witness gets directed by a member of their own team and crossed by a member of the other team. You get judged by two judges based on the quality of your performance. 

Participating in the Saint Paul Trials was a great experience that taught me a lot about how Mock Trial works and how fun it is. Some parts were hard and made me feel stressed, but there is no better feeling than after a really strong witness performance or delivering a solid closing statement. If this seems like something that would be fun, I recommend joining the team next year via the Student Organization Fair. I am looking forward to continuing Mock Trial and trying to become better and better!