Mock trial team heads to Memphis

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When junior Clay Moore joined as a first-year, SMU Mock Trial didn’t have a winning record.

“I remember stories about the year before I became a Mustang that we didn’t win a single tournament,” Moore said.

This year, mock trial’s three teams, Red, Blue and White have done well at tournaments throughout the school year and have proven themselves a nationally competitive program.

“With a lot of hard work, SMU is becoming a school that’s really feared in the mock trial community,” Moore said.

“This is by far our most successful year,” Mock Trial President Alex Chern said.

Both the Red and Blue teams went to regionals Feb. 14 at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The Red Team placed second and the Blue Team placed sixth at regionals. The program also took home three individual awards for their performance in the
trial rounds.

The next step is the Opening Round Championship Series Tournament taking place this weekend in Memphis, Tenn. The Red and Blue teams hope to do well at ORCs to secure a place at the National Championship in Orlando, Fla. in mid-April.

“We’re trying to get back into the actual national championship tournament that has eluded us for the last while now,” Chern said.

Because of the way the Red team has performed this year, the junior political science major thinks it likely they will do well at ORCs this weekend and possibly go on to nationals.

“We’ve really seen in his year the culmination of the work we’ve put in the past couple of years to make SMU mock trial one of the teams that people look at and say ‘that’s a national mock trial team,’” he said.

Moore, who is captain of the Blue Team, said they are looking not only to win and do well at ORCs, but also to use it as learning grounds for future tournaments.

“I think with this tournament, we are looking to grow,” Moore said.

The Mock Trial Program attributes this year’s success to the dedication and the motivation of team members and coaches to do well.

“It really shows the dedication and the effort that’s been put in by the seniors and the juniors from my freshman year and continuing on,” Moore said.

Mock trial competitions are run through the American Mock Trial Association. Each year, AMTA releases one case for which teams across the country prepare prosecution and defense sides.

The teams then have trials using that case at competitions throughout the school year.

This year’s case involves an armed robbery and murder charge.

“It is our goal to prove or disprove the charge of murder over the course of a trial beyond a reasonable doubt,” said senior Alex Pratt, co-captain of the Red Team.

Based on the case, each team can develop their own strategy, deciding which witnesses to call and what questions to ask.

“The trial can actually change dramatically going from round to round depending on strategy,” Moore said.

The team practices their own strategy and opposition to other teams’ strategies at their weekly three-hour practices Wednesday nights. The team also has additional practices as needed, and members work on their parts individually.

Each member of mock trial brings something different to the team.

“In mock trial, you get a lot of different personalities,” Moore said.

Some team members are hoping to go to law school, but others just look at it as a good way to enhance skills needed in the workforce.

Moore is a statistics and economics major hoping to get his masters in statistics after he graduates next spring, but thinks mock trial will help him in his career.

“I feel like it really helps with your critical thinking skills,” he said. “You have to be able to analyze, in this case, something that’s easily 200 pages long, and you have to be able to take out small details.”

Cole Chandler, a member of the White Team, joined mock trial this year as a way to act in college. He plays different witnesses in the trials.

“I did acting in high school, and I haven’t been able to do any of that here so far,” Chandler said.

Chandler, an accounting major, said mock trial has improved his public speaking skills.

“I think it will prepare me for interviews because we are never certain what the crossing attorneys will ask and we have to be ready fairly quickly.”

While the team members study and get involved in different things, they have become close friends through SMU Mock Trial.

“Because we all have the common goal of doing well and succeeding in mock trial and learning more about the law, we are able to come together and enjoy each other’s company,” she said.

Moore agrees.

“You all have this common bond: you love mock trial, and that can really change everything,” he said.

The team will be competing at ORCs in Memphis, Tenn. Friday through Sunday. If they do well, they could earn spots at the National Championship April 11.

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