Student Organization Name: Mock Trial
Category of Group: Special Interest
Your Name: Miranda Baxendale
Your Year: 2013
Your Hometown: Culver City, CA
Your Position: Member
What is Mock Trial?
Every year, we’re given a case, and have to prepare arguments for both the prosecution and the defense. Students play the role of witnesses and attorneys, and have to write all questions and statements. Every fall, we get the case on paper, but we have to bring it to life. Everyone is expected to get in the role – witnesses are typically good actors/actresses and attorneys learn to argue evidentiary issues and present cases – all wearing the same black suits!
How do teams work?
Mock Trial is a very competitive activity. At Hopkins, we have three teams. In the fall, the teams have different levels of talent distributed among them, and in the spring, the teams are stacked (meaning the strongest people are on A team, etc). Anyone can join as long as they’re willing to commit and put in the effort.
What is fall like?
In September, the case is released and there’s an introductory meeting. The officers then make teams with distributed talent. The fall is designed to see what levels people are at and let them learn about mock trial. There are many possible competitions during the fall. Many schools hold invitationals for teams to try out different case theories and gain competitive experience. This year, our first invitational was the Spider Classic at the University of Richmond. We used that tournament to see what college mock trial was like (about half the people had never done mock trial/only done it at the high school level). We also attended the Quaker Classic at the University of Pennsylvania. This was later in the season, so we used this to test out various cases and witness choices, as well as a sort of audition for spring semester.
What is spring like?
We are part of AMTA (American Mock Trial Association). The beginning of spring still has invitationals, but the main focus is on the AMTA competitions. There are three levels of competition – regionals, opening round championships, and final championships. All teams who register in time are guaranteed a spot in regionals. Each regional tournament has about 24 teams competing, and the top 8 teams proceed to the opening round championships. Only two teams from a school can attend the same regional, so two of our teams are going to Baltimore, and the other team’s going to Princeton, New Jersey. That also means we have two possible ORC locations – Ohio and New York!
In case you didn’t know, September 17th is Constitution Day (the constitution was signed on September 17th, 1787). At Hopkins, Mock Trial helps to organize the Constitution Day celebration. This year, Adam Liptak (the Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times) came and spoke. In 2008, Hopkins hosted Jeffrey Toobin (a legal journalist for The New Yorker and CNN).
The current case is a murder case. There are three partners in a production studio when they receive a buyout offer. Two partners want to take the deal, but the majority share-holding partner does not. Soon he shows up dead, and the two other partners fall under suspicion. Ultimately, both are charged in his murder – one as an accomplice, and one as the actual murderer.
Why I’m part of Mock Trial:
Mock Trial was something that I really enjoyed in high school. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to continue at the college level, but I’m really glad that I did. I’ve learned so much at this level, and has definitely made me more interested in becoming a lawyer/going to law school. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, mock trial is a really rewarding and fun activity!