Published on November 19th, 2012 | by Brent Sumner0
Mock Trial Team Teaches Students about Courtroom
Brent Sumner, Assistant Tempo Editor
Above photo by Kevin Kuchler: The Lewis University Mock Trial team states their closing argument against The University of St. Francis in the Fantastic Flyer Mock Trial Competition Nov. 10-11.
Although Lewis University is home to one of the best mock trial teams in the country, many students are unaware of what the team actually does.
Imagine being at home watching your favorite crime movie. After the criminal is captured, he or she is brought into the courtroom where the attorneys hound the person. Witnesses are called up, and “Objection!” is yelled throughout the questioning. These scenes always make the lawyers, full of class and sophistication, look like they have an exciting job. The viewers often wish they could be that cool, or could actually prove someone to be guilty or innocent. This is a simple comparison to what the Lewis Mock Trial team is all about.
“Mock Trial is an academic club where students present both sides of a case to a panel of judges,” said Ron Jovi Ramirez, senior Mock Trial team member. “We have students playing either a witness or an attorney role, sometimes even both.”
The American Mock Trial Association was founded in 1985, and Lewis had their first competitive team in the 1993-1994 academic year.
In 1996, Dr. James Houlihan became the coach for the Mock Trial team, and his leadership helped them become one of the top 10 teams in 1997 and 1998.
The current Mock Trial team, tconsists of 18 members and five coaches. The members are split between two teams, which both compete.
“We have a lot of returners this year,” Houlihan said. “What surprised me are the new people who are doing very well. We had a lot of work to do, and a lot of shuffling of people. Some of the older members are on the second team to be leaders for them.”
The hard work of the team showed Nov. 10-11. The Lewis team hosted the Fantastic Flyer Invitational, where they finished fourth and seventh and took three individual witness awards among 20 teams such as Illinois State University, Northwestern University and Loyola University.
“The major benefits of Mock Trial are, first of all, critical thinking and education,” Houlihan said. “We teach about law and how it operates in the court. They learn how to prepare and how to argue on their feet.”
According to Houlihan, there are three types of people who enjoy being on Mock Trial. There are those who plan on attending law school, those who plan to testify in court (such as criminal justice majors) and those who just like to debate.
During the weekend after Thanksgiving, the team will be at Yale University for about the eighth year in a row, where they will compete against 65 to 70 teams. In the past, the team has finished within the top half, and they have occasionally placed in the top 12 or 15 in the tournament.
The Mock Trial team at Lewis has certainly come a long way, and with plenty of talented members, the group hopes to continue their winning ways.