Mock trial is an academic activity designed to challenge those who are interested in law, debate, or other forms of forensics. Students are divided into teams and given a court case, which they must try as both the prosecution and the defense. Places on the team include both witness and attorney roles. For students considering law as a career, mock trial provides an intense introduction to the adversarial method, diligent preparation, critical argument and organizational skill that are considered essential parts of the attorney's skill set. Though mock trial is often portrayed as a strictly pre-professional activity, the UNH Mock Trial Program emphasizes its value as a hands-on learning experience that allows students to become skilled public speakers, nimble thinkers and experienced team builders that benefit participants whether or not they later choose a career in law.
The UNH Mock Trial Teams’ competed at the AMTA Manchester Regional Tournament on February 17-19, 2012, hosted by St. Anselm College; two of UNH’s mock trial teams, 1087 and 1088, participated at this tournament. They ended the tournament with our program’s best individual team record in a regional tournament and best combined record since its founding in 2001.
Team 1087, composed of our most experienced mockers, tied with Tufts for third place overall in the tournament, going 6-1-1. It took two ballots from host St. Anselm, two from Dartmouth, two from UVM and split (a loss and a tie) with tournament winner Wellesley. Junior Connor Barry earned an outstanding attorney award. Just a word on Connor’s accomplishment: he played an attorney on both the prosecution and defense sides of the case and presented compelling closing arguments for both sides. He is an outstanding mocker in a very talented group. Senior Miles Ela and junior Brett Steiman both earned outstanding witness awards. Team 1087 earned a bid to the AMTA Opening Round Championship Series at Pace Law School on March 10. The team captains are Connor Barry and Senior Alexandra Howard (POLT).
Team 1088, a mixed team of experienced and new mockers, went head to head with the best teams in our region, earning a 4-3-1 record and top spot on the AMTA “open bid” list to an Opening Round Championship Series Tournament. This likely means that for the first time in its history, UNH Mock Trial will earn not one, but two bids to the ORCS. 1088 took two ballots from Brandeis, split (loss and tie) with Tufts A (the team that came in third in the tournament), split with Yale (which came in 8th) and split with Tufts B (which also ended with a 4-3-1 record and is second on the open bid roster). Senior Megan Currier, who is competing in her first year of college mock trial, earned an outstanding attorney award. Team 1088 is captained by Megan Currier and Senior Shauna Harris.
Mock Trial would like to recognize that they could not have achieved what they did this year without the support of many people, at the risk of forgetting someone important: Attorney Bryan Townsend (UNH ’07) and Randy Lawrence-Hurt (UNH ’10, MAJS expected ’12) have ably served as assistant coaches. Attorney Bob Shaines (UNH ’48, if memory serves), the Burtman Trust and additional benefactors have provided indispensable support to the Mock Trial Gift Fund. County Attorney Tom Velardi has generously given of his time, and Tom worked with the Strafford County Commissioners to make the Superior Courthouse available to 1088 and 1087 for an important scrimmage the week before the tournament. Over the course of the year many UNH Mock Trial alumni have lent their successors both instructional and moral support.
Team 1089, composed of our newest members, will compete next weekend at the AMTA Boston Regional.
The program is looking for smart, diligent, team-oriented students for next fall's teams. If interested, contact Charles Putnam.
For more information about Mock Trial, visit the Mock Trial website in the Justice Studies program.