The University of St. Thomas Mock Trial team competed at the annual University of Minnesota Mock Trial Invitational tournament (known as the “Mock Trial Battle”) Oct. 24-26. UST sent two groups, one of which placed second overall at the tournament, and several team members claimed individual awards.
Mock trial tournaments, which are meant to simulate a courtroom experience, either last a weekend or take place on a Saturday and Sunday. Tournaments are divided up into four three-hour sessions where team members face off against an opposing school. Each school prepares for the case. One school takes on the role of the prosecution while the other takes on the role of the defense. Team members are awarded points by three presiding judges on a 10-point scale based on their roles as witnesses or attorneys. Factors such as witness knowledge, presentation and responsiveness are important for high scores when playing the role of a witness while factors such as presentation, knowledge of the rules of evidence and appropriate framing of the issues of the case at hand are important when playing the role of an attorney.
Group one, which took second place at the University of Minnesota tournament, consisted of: Joseph Janochoski, Michael Etteldorf, Trevor Gersch, Ali Kraemer, Lauren Rae, Carly Johnson, Angie Thomas, Hayley Spratt and Matt Hazleton. Group two consisted of: Chelsea Reinartz, Mitch Sullivan, Amanda Marincic, Ryan Niezgocki, Sam Cole, Lauren Curtright, Olivia Gardiner, Danielle Kohler and Brandon Reilly.
The following team member also picked up individual award: Janochoski, Outstanding Attorney Award and Outstanding Witness Award; Etteldorf, Outstanding Attorney Award; Kraemer, Outstanding Witness Award; and Gersch, Outstanding Witness Award.
“The mock courtroom style that is used … is incredibly helpful to anyone who wants to work on their speaking skills, and is especially valuable to anyone who is interested in being a trial attorney,” Janochoski said. “Individuals involved receive real experience doing what trial attorneys do; our coaches specifically try to teach us how to ‘think like a lawyer,’ both in terms of case preparation and thinking on the fly during tournaments to customize our strategy to better counter an opposing team. The skills are incredibly helpful for almost any career as critical thinking and speaking skills are always beneficial.”
The UST Mock Trial team has attended the University of Minnesota tournament since its inception seven years ago.
The UST Mock Trial team will attend the Fifth Annual St. Olaf Ole Open Invitational Tournament on Nov. 15-16, and the Durst Memorial Holiday Mock Trial Invitational, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Superior, on Dec. 5-7. The University of St. Thomas will hosted the Hattig Invitational on Jan. 24-25, 2015. In the spring, a group will be sent to the American Mock Trial Association-sanctioned regionals tournament, where the team will fight for the opportunity to attend a tournament that would give them a shot at attending the national tournament.
The faculty adviser for the Pre-Law Society, which Mock Trial is a part of, is Dr. Kathleen Winters. The coaches are John and Cory Monnens. They are UST alumni who both attended William Mitchell College of Law.