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Oct. 20, 2011
By Brittany Keithley, media relations assistant
Coming off the most successful season in its history, the Northwest Missouri State University mock trial team will host the Bearcat Invitational Mock Trial Tournament Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29, in the J.W. Jones Student Union.
With 24 participating teams from universities in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas, the tournament has doubled in size since last year’s first invitational involving 10 teams. Some participating schools include Drake University, University of Iowa, Creighton University, University of South Dakota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Columbia College, Avila University, Morningside College and Collin College.
“Last year we decided to try to host the tournament to raise money for additional competitions, and this year we aimed for as many as 20 teams,” said Daniel Smith, assistant professor of political science, pre-law advisor and mock trial coach. “It’s beyond our original vision, and now we have some of the best teams coming to this tournament. If we do it right we will be on the map for a good early season tournament for universities to attend.”
The tournament is run entirely by student members, advisors and volunteers. Rounds are judged by volunteer attorneys and judges from the local community and Northwest alumni from the region, including lawyers, judges, law students and former mock trial participants.
“Some of the students want to be lawyers and they get that practice, but for some it’s the networking,” Smith said. “Every time we go to a tournament they are meeting all of these other students and are getting feedback from actual judges and lawyers. For the students the benefit is long term and it’s a great skill-building opportunity.”
As the Northwest mock trial team president, Paul Brothers, a senior political science major from Clarinda, Iowa, helped organize the majority of the tournament with Smith. Brothers credits his mock trial experiences with helping him understand trial procedures for law school next year.
“It has taught me how to question witnesses, and I have learned the rules of evidence and objections, which will benefit me in law school,” Brothers said. “It also helps with public speaking skills for both attorneys and witnesses. Everyone is judged on their performance, and it helps you get use to public speaking and develop good public speaking skills such as demeanor, talking speed and eye contact.”
Last season the Northwest mock trial team completed the most successful season in its history at the American Mock Trial Association's Great Midwest Regional Tournament at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Patrick Winkler received the highest attorney score a Northwest student has earned at a regional competition while Amanda Docter and Seth Slayden both narrowly missed the necessary 15 marks for individual witness awards. The team also took second place in the Bearcat Invitational, the team’s highest finish in a tournament.
Northwest's mock trial team competes in regional and national competitions sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association. Students prepare cases and play the roles of attorneys and witnesses during simulated trials before professional judges and attorneys. Mock trial gives undergraduate students an opportunity to learn firsthand about the judicial process and the work of trial attorneys, as well as honing communications skills.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468