About

UCLA Tournament

What is mock trial?
How does Columbia Mock Trial work?
How well does the program do?
Where does Columbia Mock Trial compete?
What are the roles of each participant?
What are the differences between High School and College Mock Trial?
What kind of time commitment does Columbia Mock Trial require?
What are the requirements for trying out?
How can I get involved?

What is Mock Trial?

Mock Trial is a competitive activity in which teams simulate a real trial. The activity requires students to think critically about the law, analyze and interpret legal facts, speak compellingly, and work well on their feet. At the beginning of every year AMTA, The American Mock Trial Association, provides registered teams with case materials that will be used for the entire season. Competitions each have four rounds and all teams present both sides of the case. Teams have a minimum of six participants as each team is responsible for three witnesses and three attorneys per round. Attorneys and witnesses receive scores from the judges for each component of their case presentation. To prepare for competitions, participants work together to form case strategy, learn the Federal Rules of Evidence, prepare examinations, and develop witness characters.

How does Columbia Mock Trial work?

Columbia Mock Trial fields two competitive teams that travel to tournaments across the country. Each team consists of six to ten members. Each team works with the coaches to formulate case theories and strategies and strengthen performance. The season spans from September to April and during that time, the teams work to put together the most compelling and effective case. Columbia Mock Trial consistently places one of its teams in the top ten nationally. This past year was no exception and Columbia placed fourth in the National Championship Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee.

How well does the program do?

In our 13 years of existence, Columbia University Mock Trial (CUMT) has won countless regional and invitational tournaments, and qualified for the National Championship Tournament nine of the past ten years, often placing in the top 10 teams. In 2010, CUMT had an extremely successful season team-shot-minus-brandon-in-memphis that included 9 top 5 finishes including a fourth place win at the National Championship Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2009, CU Mock won an award at every tournament attended and placed in the top ten at the National Championship Tournament in Des Moines, IA. In 2008, CUMT won its Regional Tournament and participated in both the National Championship and National Tournament, held in Minneapolis and Arizona, respectively. In 2007 CUMT finished 5th at the National Championship Tournament in St. Petersburg, FL and 6th at the National Tournament in Minneapolis, MN. In 2004, CUMT placed 2nd at the National Championship Tournament out of over 500 teams.

Where does Columbia Mock Trial compete?

CUMT competes all over the country. Prior to the Post-Season competitions, the program participates in various invitational tournaments held by other universities in cities all over America. Typically, each team attends 5 invitationals. In the spring, starting sometime in March, the Post-Season begins with the Regional Competition. If teams make it out of Regionals, they continue on to the Opening Round Championship Site (ORCS). From there, qualifying teams go on to the National Championship Tournament. Last year, CUMT attended competitions in Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Kentucky, California, New York, and Massachusetts.

What are the roles of each participant?

Attorneys are responsible for direct examinations, cross-examinations, opening statements and closing arguments. The “direct” is a series of questions and responses that attorneys prepare with their witness. A “cross” is an examination of the other team’s witness. Each team is required to present an opening statement and closing argument which are delivered by different team members.Witnesses participate in direct examination and cross-examination. They help prepare a direct with their attorney and work to develop a character that is believable, interesting, and representative of the affidavit. On cross, the witness receives questioning from the other team’s attorney and must respond appropriately and in accordance with the facts of the case. Each team requires a time-keeper to ensure that participants stay within the time requirements.

What are the differences between High School and College Mock Trial?

team-in-courtroom The College Mock Trial case is generally more complicated than that of a high school case and requires more sophisticated legal arguments.The case packet is also longer and tends to provide more information than the typical high school case. Closing argument is also expanded and competitors are given 9 minutes instead of 5. The major difference, however, is in the selection of witnesses. In high school, the case packet provides 3 witnesses for each side and teams are required to call all of them. In college, the case includes many more witness affidavits and teams must choose which witnesses they wish to call. Often times, one witness could be called by either the Prosecution/Plaintiff or the Defense. The college format makes for more interesting competitions because teams present numerous different theories and presentations of the case. While having high school mock trial experience may be helpful for an individual, it is by no means required for participation at the college level. Everyone must learn new components of the activity and an ability to speak well and work well on your feet is by far more important.

What kind of time commitment does Columbia Mock Trial require?

CUMT is an incredibly successful program and therefore requires students to commit a fair amount of time. Practices are held twice a week and each practice is generally 3 hours long. Competitors are expected to prepare for practice by working on directs, crosses, closings, and openings on their own time. Often, witness-attorney pairs will meet between practices to write and practice their examinations. Before a competition, teams will often hold an extra practice or two to get everything ready. The competition weekends themselves are the most time-consuming as students devote 2-3 days to the activity. Because we compete all over the country, traveling can also be somewhat time consuming. But that is part of what makes CUMT so much fun! Competitors are expected to be committed to the program and willing to give up some of their free time in order to maintain CUMT’s reputation as one of the best teams in the country. But Mock Trial is certainly not the only student activity that competitors engage in. Many Columbia mockers also participate in Theater, Student Government, Greek Life, and other campus activities.

What are the requirements for trying out?

To learn more about trying out, you can look at the “Tryouts” tab on the website or join the Columbia Mock Trial Tryouts Group on Facebook. Each fall, CUMT holds tryouts to recruit for that year’s season. The format of the tryout is not released until a week before but generally involves a prepared section as well as an extemporaneous part in order to gauge a student’s talent in both areas. No prior experience with Mock Trial is necessary. The program looks for dedicated students interested in the law, debate, public speaking, acting, competing, traveling, or winning.

How can I get involved?

You can e-mail our president, Leah Rosenberg, and let her know that you are interested in trying out. Or you can email our head coach Mia Eisner-Grynberg. Every fall, we host a Meet and Greet during Orientation Week and we always have a table out on College Walk during Activities Day. Tryouts are held within the first few weeks of the Fall semester. Click here to fill out a form and receive more information on Columbia Mock Trial’s tryouts.

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