A Mock Trial team from UTC took home a third place in the Grand Ole Tournament, held Nov. 4-5 at Vanderbilt University. The tournament is one of the top three competitions in the country and attracts top-level college teams.
UTC’s Blue Team, composed of returning seniors, went 6-1-1, good enough for third place. In the process, it also swept the team from Harvard University, considered one of the best mock-trial programs in the country.
Blue Team member Zeke Starr, a political science and history major, also won an outstanding attorney award.
The Gold Team, the junior team that is mostly first-year competitors, was at Middle Tennessee State University this past weekend and came away with a second-place finish in their division and two individual awards. The team won seven of eight mock trials—a record for the mock trial team in any competition. It also tied three other teams—Rhodes College, Emory University and the University of South Carolina—for the best record.
Political science major Mac Martin and English major Christopher Guin were individual winners as attorney and witness, respectively.
In mock-trial competitions, teams are given the particulars of a case—the lawsuit or criminal charges, case law, depositions, witness list, exhibits. Once the trial starts, both teams must finish the entire procedure within three hours. Winning or losing the case is irrelevant; there’s no verdict. What counts is the judges’ scores.
And teams aren’t just on one side of the courtroom aisle or the other — prosecutor or defense. To prepare, teams must work both sides of the aisle, coming up with legal arguments for the plaintiff and the defendant, acting as lawyers for both sides.
They also must develop the personalities of the witnesses based on fictional depositions ostensibly given by the witness. Witnesses may be the most critical element of the trial, even outpacing the opening and closing statements, mock trial team members say.