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Northwest's 2019-20 mock trial team is pictured above while hosting their annual Bearcat Invitational tournament last month. (Submitted photo)

Northwest's 2019-20 mock trial team is pictured above while hosting their annual Bearcat Invitational tournament last month. (Submitted photo)

Nov. 4, 2019

Mock trial students rank high at annual home tournament

Northwest Missouri State University student Bruce Menard earned an outstanding witness award as the University hosted its 10th annual Bearcat Invitational mock trial tournament Oct. 19-20.

Two teams of Northwest students competed in the tournament, which featured a field of 18 teams that included multiple teams representing Missouri Southern State University, Washburn University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Kansas and Creighton University. One of Missouri-Columbia’s three teams finished first with teams from Arkansas and Creighton rounding out the top three.

The two-day event comprised four rounds of competition focused on a fictional case involving a woman’s death as the result of a fall from a trail. Attorneys argued whether the defendant’s daughter, who had a physical ailment, fell or was pushed from a dangerous camp trail.

Menard, a junior mathematics major from Gladstone, Missouri, who also earned the outstanding witness award at last year’s tournament, earned 16 of 20 possible marks.

Kileigh Cerny, a junior political science major from Council Bluffs, Iowa, competing as an attorney, earned 16 marks and missed an outstanding attorney award by one point.

Daniel Smith, an assistant professor of political science, coaches the Northwest Mock Trial team. Northwest alumni, who annually volunteer as event staff and judges to ensure the tournament runs efficiently, numbered 18 at this year’s competition.

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 in addition to honing communications skills.

Smith notes mock trial participants often continue their education at law schools, and some receive significant scholarship offers.

The team’s 2019-20 officers are Tyler Tree, a junior political science major from Kansas City, Missouri, as president; Taylor Moore, a junior political science major from Lenexa, Kansas, as vice president; Lucas Fansler, a sophomore political science major from Oak Grove, Missouri, as secretary; and Matthew Berry, a junior computer science major from Johnston, Iowa as treasurer.

For more information about mock trial, visit The American Mock Trial Association, or contact Smith at 660.562.1293 or


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