Mock Trial goes to national semifinals

Kayla Wilson

Lawrence University Mock Trial participated in the regional competition at Marquette University Feb. 18-19, earning bids to the national semifinal tournament. In addition, senior Loni Philbrick-Linzmeyer and sophomore Caitlin Gallogly were awarded two of the 12 “outstanding witness” awards.
Lawrence boasts two teams among its 15 members, both of which qualified for the national semifinals. The first team, in seventh place, included Philbrick-Linzmeyer, fellow senior Tim Ruberton, juniors Candice Gangle and Maggie Helms, sophomores Katie Gladych and Leila Sahar, and freshman Matt Sennewald.
The 10th-place team consisted of seniors Jeremy Bamsch, Evan Fye, Jon Horne, Serene Sahar, Markus Specks and sophomore Caitlin Gallogly. Sophomore Valerie Raedy was unable to compete due to an opera performance.
Although both teams qualified, the group opted to decline one of the bids, selecting eight members of the group to represent them in the competition.
The team is advised by Dean Martha Hemwall and coached by local attorney John Peterson, Hemwall’s husband. Mock Trial only formed last year under Serence Sahar’s leadership, and has done well against long-standing teams from much larger schools such as Northwestern.
To prepare for the tournament the group divided itself into witnesses and attorneys at the start of the season. Attorneys are usually those with more mock trial experience or a wish to pursue law as a career.
The witnesses are often students with acting experience. The attorneys are responsible for coming up with questions for the witnesses, the witnesses’ affidavit, and other scripted work. For both roles, the ability to think on one’s feet is tremendously important.
In the early fall, the national organization releases a fictional case to the mock trial teams around the country. This year’s case was a kidnapping trial.
At each competition, the team takes the side of the defense and prosecution twice, with the trial running similar to the way a real trial would, complete with time limits imposed for each section of the trial.
The teams are awarded points based on their performances, with