Stonehill College's mock trial team competes against other colleges by preparing and conducting a trial based upon a packet of materials published by the American Mock Trial Association. The process blends the practice of law with a dramatic edge. Each member of the team plays the role of either a lawyer or a witness, depending on individual interests and abilities.
Each year, the American Mock Trial Association puts out a new case packet, which contains all the factual and legal information pertaining to that year’s case. Cases alternate between criminal prosecutions (i.e., somebody is being tried by the government for a crime such as murder) and civil trials (i.e., somebody is being sued by a private party seeking compensation for an injury). All the facts for the case and the relevant law are provided in the case packet; no outside research is needed. With a thorough understanding of the facts provided in the case packet, the team develops its trial strategy, deciding which of the witnesses to call, which facts to highlight, and what arguments to make.
Attorneys and witnesses have very different roles to play. Witnesses take on the persona of a character detailed in the case packet. Each year there tends to be at least one wacky witness, which can be played with lots of pizzazz and a creative wardrobe. Every case packet also has expert witnesses, who have extensive expert or technical knowledge in a specific area (e.g., a crime scene investigator testifying about gunshot residue or a coroner testifying about causes of death). Witnesses need to become intimately familiar with the characters they play. Attorneys, on the other hand, have only one role to play: they must act like seasoned litigators. They are expected to learn courtroom procedure, the rules of evidence, and a bit of substantive law. This may sound daunting, but there are lots of resources to turn to for help, the best being the teammates who have mock trial experience.
Pre-existing knowledge of trial advocacy doesn’t matter: everyone learns as they go. During the mock trial season (from September to February), there will be many training sessions and practices. We also compete in two invitational competitions or scrimmages. All of this is done to prepare for the regional competition put on by the American Mock Trial Association in February. If you are interested in joining the team, contact one of the officers listed on the left. Academic credit is available for participating in mock trial.