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March 21, 2016 at 2:24 pm

OHIO Mock Trial Team Competes at Opening Round Championship Series

OHIO Mock Trial Team after its final trial in the Opening Regional Championships in Lancaster, PA.

OHIO Mock Trial Team after its final trial in the Opening Regional Championships in Lancaster, PA.

The Ohio University Mock Trial Team was the only first-year team to compete in the Opening Round Championship Series of the American Mock Trial Association competition at the Courthouse in Lancaster, PA, on March 18-20.

“I’m very proud of these students, ” said team co-coach Grant Garber, Associate General Counsel at OHIO. “Last September, we began as a group of individuals who didn’t know much about each other or, frankly, much about college mock trial. But during six months of long hours, weekends and late nights of practice, they came together as a true team, achieved success among more experienced competitors, and became great friends with each other. It’s been a privilege to watch and be a part of that growth.”

The championship series tournaments host the top teams from each of the association’s regional tournaments in February. Of the more than 550 teams from 350 colleges and universities, only 192 advanced to compete in the Opening Round Championship Series. The top six teams from each series tournament advance to the association’s National Championship Tournament in April.

The OHIO team was the only first-year team in the entire country to advance to the Opening Round Championship Series. The team consisted of 10 students: McKenzie Allen, Noah Allen, Hannah Caldwell, Sierra Causey, Alex Mannarino, Sara Sams, Elliot Smith, Alyssa StegmaierCasey Tisdale, and Sarah Welch.

Departing on Thursday, March 17, the team spent the next day preparing for its first trial at 6 p.m. In that trial, the OHIO prosecution team was paired against New York University. The next day, Saturday, March 19, the defense was tested against Syracuse University’s A prosecution team. Later in the day, the prosecution faced off against Syracuse B’s defense. On the final day of competition, Sunday, March 20, the defense team went up against Case Western Reserve University’s A team prosecution. OHIO defense won both ballots of that trial, with esteemed compliments from the judges.

This also ultimately led to several team members receiving individual awards for their designated roles:

  • Sarah Welch, a senior Piano major, received a Best Attorney Award for her job as the defense’s closing attorney.
  • Noah Allen, a sophomore studying Games and Animation, also was awarded Best Witness for his defense role as the expert witness, J.D. Lorean.
  • Hannah Caldwell, a senior studying History, played the role of Tracey Minetos, a witness, thus granting her the award for Best Witness.
From left: Noah Allen, Sarah Welch, and Hannah Caldwell with their awards from the Lancaster Opening Round Championship.

From left: Noah Allen, Sarah Welch, and Hannah Caldwell with their awards from the Lancaster Opening Round Championship.

“It’s been a rewarding experience—making friends with the amazing people on the team, traveling to tournaments together, learning and growing together,” Welch noted. “The team’s success reflects the hard work of everyone on the roster as well as our incredibly dedicated and talented coaches.” She sends a strong recommendation to students interested in trying out next year.

“I can’t recommend the program enough. It’s been a great experience, and key to my decision to go to law school after I graduate. I use mock trial skills literally every day. Public speaking is an obvious benefit, but the ability to develop and articulate a clear, convincing argument is useful in every discipline. Thinking on your feet, teamwork, and problem solving are other interdisciplinary skills mock trial hones in each participant. The benefits to a prospective law student are also huge: experiential knowledge of trial procedure, the rules of evidence, and courtroom-specific rhetorical strategies are central to mock trial.”

Sarah’s sentiment was echoed by senior Political Science major Sierra Causey, who is also headed to law school in the fall,

“I’m a little bummed that this is my last year at OHIO, because I would like to be here as the program grows,” Causey said. “Thanks to this experience, I’ve become closer to people I would’ve never have met, and it’s really helped me overcome my fear of public speaking.”

The team will continue to practice for the remainder of the season and and make improvements for next year.  Tryouts for the 2016-2017 team will take place in Fall 2016.

The team is coached by Garber, Pre-Law Specialist Larry Hayman of the Ohio University Center for Law, Justice & Cultureand Miranda West. The team’s attendance at the competition is made possible by the Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences, the departments of History, Political ScienceSociology & Anthropology, and Psychology, the Center for Law, Justice & CultureSchool of Journalism, School of Communication Studies, School of Media Arts & Studies, Ohio University Student Senate Appropriations Commission, and from generous alumni contributions.

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