Mock Trial continues streak of successes at tournament

Macalester’s Mock Trial teams all placed in the top 10 out of 32 teams at the tournament Macalester hosted on campus last weekend. Macalester took home the competition’s first, third, fourth and sixth place prizes. Kevin Fortune ’17, Elliott Averett ’15 and Max Wang ’15 all took home individual awards.

Macalester has ranked as a top competitor at the national tournament for three out of the last four years. The tournament selects 48 college and university teams from a nationwide pool of 600 top-ranked schools. In the past few years, Macalester has finished in the top 10 teams two out of three of those times, bringing home seven All-American honors, the highest-level individual award possible.

The case they argued described 11-year old Jesse Duran, who shoots and kills neighborhood friend Sidney Park. The gun was kept in Park’s household, and Park’s parents sued Duran’s parents for Park’s wrongful death. The plaintiff could either pursue negligent parental supervision, or intentional shooting.

This case was reused throughout the year at every stage of competition except for nationals. As this was a civil case, each team prepared to argue both sides of the case, and then argued as each side twice.

“Each side prepares an opening statement, three witnesses’ direct and cross-examinations, as well as a closing argument,” Brett Campbell ’15, a senior captain, said. “So another school would cross-examine our witness, played by a Mac competitor.”

After, both teams takes turns cross-examining the opposing team’s witnesses and objecting to the opposing side’s case.

Each Mock Trial tournament has four rounds during which those switches occur, pairing off against any of the other schools in attendance. Macalester competed against the United States Air Force Academy, Grinnell College, Carleton College and Hamline University, among others. Mac’s team won against all of those colleges.

Campbell noted the importance of accurately portraying roles, as well as retaining and utilizing court and case knowledge, as both are crucial to the team’s status. Campbell cited his teammate, Michael Karadsheh ’18, and how his emotionally charged portrayal of Park’s parent exemplified that kind of role playing.

“These moments when the trial actually feels real, and the chemistry between your witness and attorney [are] so perfect [that] no one in the room can turn their heads away, you realize how exciting, exhilarating and fun this activity can be,“ Campbell said.

Jiayin Qu ’17 made an impact with her theoretical grasp of court proceedings, according to Li Guan ’15, another senior captain.

“She completely caught the other side off guard and intellectually annihilated opposing counsel,” Guan said.

The fact that Macalester’s mock trial team consists mostly of participants who had little previous experience in this role was a “wonderful sign of the health and longevity of the program for the years to come,” and contributed to the team’s success, Campbell said.

“All of the senior captains and coaches were very excited and proud of our team’s overall performance,” Campbell said.

The Mock Trial team started this semester with over 40 participants, and they made up four teams that officially attended the composition.

Teams were un-stacked, meaning team compositions were not stratified by skill level. The spring semester, which is more competitive than the fall, will have stacked teams.

Mac Mock Trial plans on sending one team to Tufts University to compete next weekend, and the other three teams to St. Olaf. The first weekend in December will have one team compete at Yale University, and the other three will compete at the University of Wisconsin at Superior.

January prep for Regionals will determine if Mac makes it into the Opening Round Championships. If they qualify, Macalester will retain its position as a team in the top 48 teams at the National Championship Tournament.