When University of Oregon’s mock trial team qualified for championships, the whole team “stood up and screamed like maniacs,” UO junior Gregory Mina said.
On January 24 and 25, 10 members, including Mina, will participate in the Winston Thomas Memorial Invitational at UC Berkley where they will compete against mock trial members from other universities through a series of four rounds. Scoring is based on factors such as presentation, speaking, preparation, professionalism and knowledge.
Ever since the idea of a career became tangible to Mina, he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. He wanted to be a lawyer.
“My grandfather was a lawyer, and I always thought that the stories he would tell me were inspirational–all the cool things he did,” Mina said.
He said from the beginning of his participation in mock trial in high school, his grandfather was supportive and interested in everything Mina was doing. He would look over cases with him, help him choose what questions to ask and ask how mock trial was going.
“It was clearly something that he thinks is worth it and valuable,” Mina said.
When Mina started school at the University of Oregon, he joined the UO Mock Trial team, where students act as lawyers and witnesses in fake trials.
Since then, its members have tripled from 10 to 30, with mock trial at UO gaining more national relevance.
They now compete in tournaments in Oregon and around the country. Last year, the UO Mock Trial team qualified for their first Opening Round Championship Series, which features the highest-ranking teams from regional tournaments.
UO Forensics Director Trond Jacobsen said that Mina’s been a large factor in mock trial’s growth and success at UO.
“He’s played a critical role in working with the staff for forensics, in recruiting and improving the quality of experience for mock trial students,” Jacobsen said.
Mina said that in high school he would never make it to first place in his tournaments.
“That’s been my biggest challenge–getting over the hump of always getting second,” he said.
At the Emerald City Open held in December, Mina became UO’s first 20-rank competitor. This means that he was ranked as the best competitor out of four people for every round he participated in.
Mina said his strategies for getting higher rankings are staying calm in trial and having confidence, while his fascination with legal texts makes preparing for competitions easier. He also said his teammates’ participation and the people he’s worked with in the past have helped contribute to his achievements.
“I came into this program at the right time, to be lucky enough to kind of become the face of it,” he said. “But it definitely does not mean that I’m the only one putting in the work.”
One of the students attending is Mina’s good friend, Phillip Kriegel, who joined UO’s mock trial team after Mina convinced him.
He said that Mina is one of the smartest people he’s ever met.
“He’s also really goofy, really funny, and a great friend,” he said.
Mina encourages anyone who is interested in mock trial to contact him at [email protected].
“When you actually get in a trial, the adrenaline and the performance is hard to replicate anywhere else,” Mina said.