Alumni News

February 4, 2020 at 2:55 pm

Alumni Help Prepare OHIO Mock Trial for Columbus Regional Tournament

Alumni help with mock trial team preparation.

The Prosecution Team at the Scarlet & Grey Invitational

The Ohio University Mock Trial Team will compete in the annual American Mock Trial Association Regional Tournament Competition at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 22-23.

The Ohio University Mock Trial is divided into two teams, each composed of 10 students. Students are required to tryout for the team each fall. Select students then begin preparing the case for trial and compete in Ohio State University’s Scarlet & Grey Invitational in October. The organization provides students with an interest in law with the valuable experiential learning experience of preparing and trying a case.  The students learn valuable analytical, public speaking, communication, and other skills.

Every year, universities across the country are provided a case packed by the American Mock Trial Association. This year, more than 600 teams from 350 colleges and universities in the United States will participate in AMTA tournaments.

Students prep for mock trial competition.

Students during trial

Each team member is assigned a part as either an attorney or a witness. Attorneys are required to develop case theories, as well as write direct and cross examination questions, draft opening statements and closing arguments, as well as learn the case law and rules of evidence. Witnesses are given the task of creating a character from the case packet and working with their attorney to develop their character and testimony.

OHIO Mock Trial’s two teams will both compete in four different trials. Each side of the case, the prosecution and the defense, will perform twice over the course of two days. Twenty-three teams will compete in Columbus that weekend, including the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Indiana University, University of Cincinnati, and Kent State University.

This year’s case is State of Midlands v. Jordan Ryder, a criminal case. In this case, Jordan Ryder has been indicted for either (1) aggravated murder or (2) involuntary manslaughter for causing the death of Parker Paige, Ryder’s minor daughter, during a hiking trip to Calkins Campground. The prosecution has the option of pursuing either charge, and the defense has to be ready to defend against the charge the prosecutor pursues. Each side gets to call three witnesses, with ten witnesses being available. The case packet also includes documentary evidence.

Preparing for Competition With Alumni Lawyers, Law Students, and Mock Trial Alum

The teams have been preparing their cases for trial since August 2019. The teams practice several days a week, both on their own and with CLJC Pre-Law Specialist Larry Hayman, who founded the team in 2015. During practice, they learn how to develop case themes and theories, practice applying evidentiary rules, make objections, and familiarizing themselves with trial procedure.

As the team nears competition, alumni lawyers and law students will serve as guest judges during practice scrimmages, providing valuable feedback to the competitors. On Jan. 30, after the College of Arts & Sciences’ Career and Networking Night, Ohio University Mock Trial alumnae Alexa Jesser, Sara Sams, and Gabrielle Tharp graciously returned to Athens to judge the scrimmage. Jesser, Sams, and Tharp provided feedback based off their experience competing and judging mock trials.

Over the next several weeks, alumni attorneys Patrick McGee, Sarah Welch, Zach Saunders, Jessica Branner, Zachary Tidaback, and others will serve as guest judges, leading up to the weekend of competition.

OHIO mock trial prosecution team

OHIO mock trial prosecution team

“As President, I’m so glad I’ve been able to see the growth of this team throughout the past year, and I’m so excited to see how we all perform at Regionals. I can’t wait to see our hard work pay off, and I know it’ll be both a fun and rewarding experience for the team, as always,” says Mock Trial President Lydia Wendel, a senior studying Political Science Pre-Law with a minor in Anthropology with a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture.

Micaela Beathem-Garcia, a second-year Political Science Pre-Law and Global Studies student is enthusiastic about competition, noting, “I am very excited to be attending the Regional Mock Trial Competition, especially after already experiencing my first trial at the OSU Invitational Competition in October. I am now able to go in with greater confidence because I know what to expect and I am even more determined to improve in February. I can’t wait to travel to Columbus with some of my closest friends!”

“I am hopeful that we can each walk into competition proud of the work we have worked so hard on preparing!” said Secretary Ellen Gill, a second year majoring in English Pre-Law and Criminology-Sociology with a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture. “All members of this team are hard-working and deserve an opportunity to give the presentation that they have spent months perfecting.”

Lori Turner, a third-year majoring in Political Science Pre-Law, noted, “The team has been so committed to the case this year and every member, new and returning, has grown tremendously. I am so excited to see our hard work pay off!”

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to go to our regional competition this year. I think we’ve had some challenges this year but we’ve really pulled together as a team and I think it’s only made us better competitors” said Kristin Tate, Mock Trial Vice-President and a senior in Political Science Pre-Law with a Certificate in Law, Justice & Culture.

Students selected for the 2019-2020 Mock Trial team include:

  • Nick Arno, a freshman studying English Pre-Law
  • Micaela Beatham-Garcia, a sophomore Political Science Pre-Law and Global Studies student with a minor in German
  • Nick Bohuslawsky, a freshman studying Political Science Pre-Law
  • Diamond Brooks, a sophomore studying HTC Political Science
  • Andrew Cornelison, a freshman Political Science Pre-Law student
  • Abigail Downs, a freshman Political Science student
  • Michael Ferris, a second year student studying Communication and World Religions
  • David Giddens, a junior studying Political Science Pre-Law and Anthropology
  • Hailey Gifford, a freshman studying Political Science Pre-Law and Spanish
  • Ellen Gill, a second year student studying English Pre-Law and Sociology-Criminology with a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture
  • Ali Gucwa, a second year student majoring in Environmental Geography Pre-Law and Urban Planning
  • Sydney Kempton, a senior Political Science Pre-Law and History student
  • Kristin Tate, a senior double majoring in Political Science and Sociology-Criminology, with a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture
  • Lori Turner, a third-year student majoring in Political Science Pre-Law
  • Jonas Lincoln Schaaf, a freshman studying Sociology
  • Jane Roche, a freshman studying Political Science Pre-Law
  • Lydia Wendel, a senior majoring in Political Science Pre-Law with a minor in Anthropology and a certificate in Law, Justice & Culture

The team is coached by Pre-Law Specialist Larry Hayman of the Ohio University Center for Law, Justice & Culture.  The team’s attendance at the competition is made possible, in part, with the support of the Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences.


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