Verdict is in: Mock trial teams give strong performances at Hatting Invitational.

The jury is in with the verdict: The St. Thomas mock trial teams recorded their best performances in the five-year history of the Hatting Mock Trial Invitational. Mock trial is an academic exercise that teaches undergraduate students how to prepare and present cases in a trial court.

St. Thomas teams placed second and 10thin the Jan. 22-23 event at the School of Law, and also won two outstanding attorney awards and two outstanding witness awards. Grinnell College placed first among the 18 teams competing.

The St. Thomas team of Cory Gagne, Michaela Smith, Katelyn Reynoldson, Nick Sideras, Peter Wagner and Brigid Galvin placed second, and the team of Joe Cronin, Pat Roche, Bree Reeves, James Bott, Grace Brelje and Jamie Grundman placed 10th.

Gagne and Grundman were named outstanding attorneys, and Wagner and Cronin were named outstanding witnesses.

The teams, and five additional students, will compete in the Upper Midwest Durst Memorial Mock Trial Regional Tournament Feb. 11-13 at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. The teams are coached by Sybil Dunlop, an attorney at Greene Espel, and John Monnens, a student at William Mitchell College of Law.

St. Thomas has been affiliated with the American Mock Trial Association since 1985. The AMTA is a national organization of more than 250 colleges and universities sponsoring teams that compete in invitational, regional-qualifying and national tournaments each academic year from October through April. 

St. Thomas won the national championship in 1987 and placed second as national runner-up in 1989. A St. Thomas team placed sixth nationally in 2004. University teams also have claimed numerous regional championships, and outstanding attorney and witness awards through the years.