February 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm

OHIO Mock Trial Team Competes in Columbus; 3 Receive Awards

From left, Ashley Mager, Lillian Mattimoe Austen Burns, all recognized at regional mock trial competition.

From left, Ashley Mager, Lillian Mattimoe Austen Burns, all recognized at regional mock trial competition.

The Ohio University Mock Trial team sent two teams to the American Mock Trial Association Regional Competition in Columbus the weekend of Feb. 10-11, with three students recognized for outstanding performance at the regional.

The competition took place in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The 17 students were divided into the White Team and the Gold Team.

group photo of members of White and Gold Team after competition in Columbus.

Members of White and Gold Team after competition in Columbus.

The team received the case in September and has been working with it since that time. The teams practiced for many hours on multiple days of the week as teams, individuals, as well as attorney-witness pairs preparing for competition. The case this year was a criminal case, in which Dylan Hendricks was accused of attempting to murder a lover’s spouse, Kerry Bell-Leon.

The case is designed in such a way that either defense or prosecution could win the case. Thus, students are encouraged to make their presentation of the case as unique and skillful as possible using affidavits and witness statements to develop characters that support each teams’ case theme and theory. Attorneys were required to develop a direct examination of a witness while being prepared to cross-examine a witness of the other team. Some attorneys were also required to prepare and deliver an opening or closing argument to advocate for their side.

Gold Team Prosecution prior to trial in Columbus, sitting at prosecution table.

Gold Team Prosecution prior to trial in Columbus.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, each team competed in two trials. The Gold Team faced the University of Dayton and Edinboro University. The White Team faced Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh. On Sunday, Feb. 11, the Gold Team faced St. Francis University and Duquesne University, while the White Team faced Dickinson University and University of Dayton.

Twenty-four teams attended the regional, representing a total of 14 colleges and universities. Several OHIO team members were recognized for their outstanding performances during the regional.

  • Austen Burns, a sophomore majoring in Economics and a second-year team member, received a Best Attorney Award for his role as Gold Team’s defense closing attorney.
  • Ashley Mager, a senior majoring in Business Economics and Business Pre-Law, and first-year member of the team,  received a Best Witness Award for her performance as the expert witness, Dr. Ryan Reeves.
  • Lillian Mattimoe a freshman double majoring in Political Science Pre-Law and Sociology-Criminology, with a Certificate in Law, Justice & Culture, received an award for her role as a Gold Team defense attorney.
White Team defense in Columbus, sitting at defense table.

White Team defense in Columbus.

Mattimoe decided to join Mock Trial because she “was interested in learning more about litigation and working on a case. I also wanted to work on improving my public speaking skills, and I definitely came a long way from where I started this year,” she said.

“I really wanted to learn more about what a career in practicing law might entail and to build general public speaking skills,” Mager said. She decided to join because she had a friend in another organization who was a member of the team.  “She told me how mock trial has helped prepare her for a career in law.  I knew I wanted to have a similar experience during my undergrad since I hope to go to law school post graduation.”

On her first year participating as a team member, Mattimoe remarked that “it was definitely a lot of work, but finally seeing all of the pieces we had worked so hard on come together was a lot of fun.  I look forward to improving my skills next year.”

“Mock Trial really brings the field of law to life,” added Mager. “Having the ability to work on a case and present it in front of a judge and law students is a unique and very valuable experience.  I greatly enjoyed working with a team of highly intelligent students who have similar interests of pursuing law,” she concluded.

All three recommend Mock Trial to any students who have an interest in law, those interested in improving their public speaking skills, and those wanting to improve their ability to think quickly on their feet.

Members of Ohio University’s third team, the Green Team, will head to Toledo, Ohio, during the weekend of Feb, 23-25 to compete in that tournament.

The team is coached by Associate General Counsel Grant Garber, and Center for Law Justice & Culture Pre-Law Specialist Larry Hayman. Tryouts for the 2018-19 will occur in Fall 2018, and interested students should sign up for the CLJC Newsletter by emailing Hayman at

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