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Mock Trial Team Begins At RC

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John Stang-Co-News Editor

Roanoke College is in the beginning stages of starting a mock trial team that will eventually compete with other colleges.

Morgan Scott, a teaching associate in Public Affairs, has started the team. His main goal for this year is to find students who are interested in doing mock trials and then build a team from there. There have been two meetings so far and Scott hopes to have another meeting before fall break. Scott has been a practicing trial lawyer since 1973, and he hopes to share his knowledge with students who join the team.

“I have taught these skills to attorneys.  Hopefully this will benefit the students as we get the program off the ground,” Scott stated.

Student interest has been fairly high so far. Twenty-five students signed up for the team, and Scott hopes to get more. He also explained that RC tried to start a mock trial team in 2003, but was not successful in getting past the planning stages.

“So far the turnout seems to be people who are interested in having fun, doing well at competitions, and looking for an opportunity to hone their debate skills,” said Katie Haugen ’12.

On a mock trial team, students are given a fake case they must reenact for the whole year. Every year the case switches between a civil and criminal case. Students will act as the attorneys and witnesses for the trials. The case selected for the mock trial competitions this year is a case called Davis v. Happyland Toy Company, which is about an infant who was killed by chewing on a toy necklace. 

There are many mock trial tournaments around the country which RC would have the chance to travel to in order to perform the trial. The school would pay for the entry fee and money would have to be raised by the team to cover some travel expenses.  

Mock trial could be very beneficial to students who are interested in going to law school. Scott explains that it enhances public speaking skills for students. It would also give students the experience of being in a courtroom. Another benefit is that Kaplan, the test prep company that sponsors the LSAT, also sponsors and has representatives at some of the tournaments. Scott really emphasized how this will give students a great jumpstart on developing rhetorical skills necessary for law school.

“One of the biggest problems a lot of people have is being able to verbally present themselves in a public forum. This is a controlled setting to develop your presentation style,” Scott said.      

Most of the students who signed up are Public Affairs and Humanities majors, but the team is open to anyone. No prior mock trial experience is necessary. If students want to join the team they can contact Scott at mscott@roanoke.edu.