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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mock Trial presses suit to championships

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In the Regionals of the annual American Mock Trial competition hosted by Hamline University in Saint Paul Friday, Jan. 30 to Sunday, Feb. 1, the Carleton mock trial team won third place and qualified to continue to the opening round championships over spring break.

Additionally, Emily Starr ’16, an economics major, won all-region top attorney, and Suhail Thandi ’17 won all-region top witness for their outstanding scores.

The American Mock Trial Association has four levels of competition for college students.

The first level is Invitational, which is solely for practice and not counted for points. The second level is Regionals, and the top seven to eight teams from each Regional group advance to the third level, Opening Round Championships (ORCS).

The top six teams from the ORCS move on to the fourth and final level, Nationals.

According to Ryan Gorey ‘17, one of the four team captains along with Taylor Mayhall ‘15, Kaitlyn Cook ‘15, and Emily Starr ‘16, it has been the highest advancement achieved by the club since one of the Carleton teams was “randomly” placed third in Nationals ten years ago.

“The club has been newly built in the past four years, especially under Taylor and Kaitlyn’s guidance,” Gorey explained.

“This year, we earned our way in third place in Regionals, outranking Macalester and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both nationally recognized teams,” he added.

Founded in 1996, the Carleton Mock Trial team currently consists of 15 members, playing either attorney or witness roles, divided into two competing teams.

The club meets three times, in total of six to seven hours, every week to write themes, strategize witness calls, and practice case law and rules of evidence objections.

“The main purpose of the club is to develop public speaking, acting, legal, writing, and logic skills,” Mayhall said. “But the members tend to become very close friends in the process.”

This year’s unprecedented success can be attributed to having an intact group of members and changing the focus of the presentation, according to Mayhall.

While Thandi said focusing on essential arguments strengthened the team’s competitiveness, Gorey revealed that also polishing rhetoric and articulation helped persuade the jury and the judges effectively.

“Even though, objectively, there may be facts that will prove your case better, if you don’t have the means to present those in a professional way, sometimes less powerful information will have more power in persuading the jury,” Gorey said.

“So changing our perspective on how to present our information was the key.”

The club members went on additional trips to New Jersey during winter break this year and participated in a tournament hosted by Monmouth University, aside from the usual invitationals at Macalester College, St. Olaf College, and the University of St. Thomas.

While only individual speakers have won awards for outstanding performances in the past, one of the teams won first place at St. Olaf, Monmouth University, and the University of St. Thomas.

“It’s my favorite community at Carleton,” Gorey said. “Watching people find their moments, where they click, and seeing everybody’s growth over the course of the entire year is really exciting to watch.”

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