University of Oregon Mock Trial: An academic program with competition

Finishing 19 in the nation last year, UO Mock Trial holds their first competition of the season: The David Frohnmayer Invitational (Courtesy of Gabriel Loges)

The University of Oregon Mock Trial Team held 24 hours of court simulation for seven universities’ undergraduate students at the third annual David Frohnmayer Invitational this past weekend.

“If you’re looking for a challenge, get involved with the Mock Trial Program,” State Representative Phil Barnhart said after judging a round of the mock trial tournament.

The David Frohnmayer Invitational had four rounds of competition in which 14 teams from seven universities prepared a prosecution and defense for a case presented by the American Mock Trial Association. Within each round, teams were assigned a side to argue with three attorneys and three expert witnesses.

“It’s a simulation that gives you a lot of real world experiences because a lot of materials that we use are what they use in actual court,” the UOMT Vice President of Communication Niharika Sachdeva explained.

In the three hour rounds, attorneys use evidentiary rules to admit documents to the bench, state objections following the Midlands Rules of Evidence, and examine and cross examine witnesses. Attorneys and witnesses must respond to objections and cross examination questioning by the opposition as they arise.

A majority of UOMT’s members are prospective law students, but students also join UOMT because they enjoy other aspects such as the acting necessary of witnesses Sachdeva explained.

“[Mock Trial] gives you the most out of any club on campus in terms of networking, critical thinking and public speaking,” a second year member UOMT Areeb Alam said. “It’s fun and you learn about the law which is always important.”

When rounds conclude, the judges critique each team’s performance providing legal advice and information for better argumentation before sending their scores to the tab-room to determine a winner.

Michelle Blackwell, attorney at law and judge of the competition said there was an outstanding amount of dedication by the students and their arguments inspire her work.

Last year the UOMT placed 19 at the AMTA national competition and they are currently ranked 59 in the nation. The team’s next competition will be in December when they travel to the university of the defending national champions, Yale.

“The level of competition this weekend has elevated significantly from last year. The trajectory of these teams is going way up,” a judge of the invitational Jesse London said.

If you are looking for more information on UOMT or mock trial competition you can find it here.

UOMT is partway through their competition season, but in the spring they will open up to all students who are looking to get involved in an academic program that has a competition aspect Sachdeva explained.