Trial Team Gears Up for Competition Season

October 4, 2003

Catherine Fox, <i>Hullabaloo</i> contributing writer

Uncoached, self-funded and completely student-led, the Tulane Mock Trial Team embarks on its second competition season with experience from last year's national tournament under its belt. The team is part of the Tulane University Pre-Law Society. Co-captains Sarah Ann Williamson and Katie Clark organized the club last fall.

"I think one of the really interesting and exciting things about Mock Trial is that it gives people an opportunity to get inside a set of facts and really analyze them," Newcomb junior Clark said.

The team receives a theoretical case each fall from the American Mock Trial Association and then prepares both a prosecution and a defense that includes both attorneys and witnesses. The team must then assign club members roles to play: either witness or attorney. The witnesses learn their affidavits, while the attorneys prepare to make objections, opening statements, direct- and cross-examinations and closing arguments.

At competitions, AMTA strategists will assign the team to compete as either the prosecution or as the defense against another school's team. This year's case for competition involves a professional hockey player's death from either an aneurism or a blow to the head in a hockey fight. The team will compete in an "invitational tournament," which will be held later this fall at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfeesboro, Tenn.

The invitational will be followed by a regional tournament in Birmingham, Ala., in January, and, if the team follows last year's precedent, they will go on to the national competition in Des Moines, Iowa. Clark believes that the team is not solely for students who plan to go to law school.

"Whether you're interested in pursuing a career in law or not," she said, "you're going to need those speaking and analyzing abilities with handling a lot of information, with speaking on your feet ' and handling situations on the fly in any career you choose."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000