Mock Trial in its second year

Emily Alinder

This year is only the second for Mock Trial at Lawrence. Last year Serene Sahar, one of the five seniors involved, organized the group. Though they had a late start compared to most teams at other schools, the team still fared well at regionals, despite not advancing further.
This year, there are two teams with a total of 15 members. Each team consists of a group of attorneys
and witnesses. The difference
from a real trial, senior Tim Ruberton explains, is that “Mock Trial focuses more on presentation
than on material. Both sides receive equally compelling information
to work with, so it’s not about who wins the trial. It is about having clean arguments, a polished presentation, not using notes and giving a better show than the opposing team.” Ruberton plans on entering law school upon graduation and knows this experience
will benefit him.
All but one of the current Mock Trial attorneys have taken Professor Adenwalla’s Civil Liberties and Constitutional Law class, so they approach the trials with a more realistic approach compared to many of the opposing teams. Local attorney John Peterson of Robinson, Peterson, Berk & Cross, L.L.P. coaches the team, providing real-life situation feedback during practices and preparing for competition.
Senior Maggie Helms believes that the Mock Trial teams will make it to nationals this year. After regionals, the best teams advance directly to nationals while the teams just below them compete in semi-nationals for the remaining
spots. Though most of this year’s team members are government
or history majors, there are also English, environmental studies,
music and theatre arts majors. Maggie stresses the need for more theatre majors to play witnesses. Speaking out of experience from being a witness last year, she enthusiastically describes a witness
as “acting a part,” though she is happy to be an attorney this year.
Sophomore and vocal/government
major Valerie Raedy says carrying out a mock trial is “comparable
to a singing performance in which the feeling of butterflies fluttering in my stomach is paired with an adrenaline rush.” This is her first year on the team and she has learned her role as a witness well in preparation for the invitational
meet in the end of January at University of Dubuque and regionals
in mid-February at Marquette University.