The College’s Mock Trial team had a great start to its season on Oct. 23 after taking home second place at the Tupper Classic at Bryant University. This was the first in-person tournament the College’s team has been a part of in two years.
Each year, teams participating in college mock trial tournaments receive a case they have to argue in a simulated courtroom setting. They alternate between civil and criminal cases annually, and this year they were given a civil case.
“Basically, the plaintiff is arguing that a person was guilty of negligence by crashing a personal plane into the side of a mountain with another person on board,” said Fiona Casson `23, a member of the Mock Trial team.
“The way Mock Trial works is that there are witnesses and there are attorneys. So the attorneys act like a real lawyer in real life would and they represent certain people like the party representative and they raise objections and they cross-examine witnesses on the stand.”
Casson participated in the trial as a witness, which entailed memorizing a ten-to-twelve-page affidavit and preparing responses for direct and cross-examination.
“My character essentially was the widow of the person that was killed in the [plane] crash, and so I was on the plaintiff side and it was the party [representing the] people that were arguing that this pilot was guilty of negligence,” explained Casson.
The team underwent a rigorous preparation process before the tournament.
“For me personally, I started off by memorizing my affidavit… I just went through and re-read it again and again. I annotated it, printed it out, put sticky notes around my room to keep track of key details I would have to remember about my character,” said Casson.
“We also did a run-through of the trial several times where I got direct examined and then cross-examined, and then I had to prepare for what issues might come up and what people might try to get you with on cross-examination. And I also recorded myself going through the direct examination and also reading my affidavit and I would listen to that as kind of a podcast when I was just walking to class and things like that.”
The team has fared pretty well in past years, but the two years of holding trials online were hard for everyone. For many team members, the Tupper classic tournament was the first in-person tournament they participated in.
“It’s a very different experience, like there’s a much higher level of memorization that you need to be prepared with when doing in-person trials. And just like, the technical proceedings of where to look, who to direct your questions to, who to look at, all that stuff is quite different when you’re in person,” Casson explained.
Casson speaks fondly about her experience in Mock Trial over the past three years.
“I kind of feel like it’s the perfect intersection between my interest in the English major and the Government major, which I’m double majoring in,” she said.
She explained how Mock Trial has helped with public speaking and interviews, and how much it has helped her develop the ability to think on her feet.
“Also, specifically for me, playing witness I like to think about how changing my language or my accent, my cadence, or even my clothes can affect how people perceive me and whether I seem like a credible person in terms of the trial,” Casson said.
Casson won an outstanding witness award at the Tupper Classic along with Jessica Kalonji `26 and Dev Purohit `25.
The weekend of October 29th, the team participated in the Wildcat Invitational in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and ranked fourth overall. Team Captains Hannah Weil `23 and Taylor Betchel `23 won outstanding attorney awards, and Kevin Craig `24 won an outstanding witness award.
“I think that we’re off to a fantastic start this year,” Casson said. “We have some excellent leadership with Hannah Weil and Taylor Betchel as our captains. And they’re really steering the team in a fantastic direction so I’m really excited for where the rest of the Mock Trial season takes us.”
~ Mahika Gupta `23
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