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Sunday, May 26, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame Mock Trial teams advance to championship series

Notre Dame’s mock trial A and B teams will be advancing to the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa later this month. 

Notre Dame’s Mock Trial A, B and C teams all received bids that qualified them for the championship series, but national rules restrict schools to the participation of two teams. 

Courtesy of Notre Dame Mock Trial
Notre Dame Mock Trials's A team gathers after one of their competitions. Later this month, both the A and B teams will travel to Iowa to compete in regional competition.

Traditional mock trial competitions involve four rounds of arguing case law in an imitation court setting and months of legal preparation centered around learning the federal rules of evidence.

Preparation for ORCS started with the publication of a legal case by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) at the beginning of the academic year, according to senior mock trial president Evan Baker. 

Following the case’s publication, members of Notre Dame’s Mock Trial teams were then assigned various roles. Three attorneys and three witnesses were selected for each side of the case per team to work together to identify hearsay and other falsehoods in arguments presented by the opposition.  

Baker noted attentiveness and effective communication were just a few of the many abilities needed to succeed in mock trial tournaments.

“One thing mock trial really prepares you to do is critical thinking, especially on your feet,” Baker said. “You have to be prepared as a witness or an attorney to be asked questions on the spot by the other team or to make objections to their material.” 

The team’s advancement to the next level of competition brings about constant changes to the case. New facts are introduced and different approaches are needed by both the defense and the prosecution before ORCS begins. 

Senior mock trial vice president Abby Hickey said the teams will prepare over the upcoming weeks. 

“The change in the case means that we’re going to try and practice over spring break and scrimmage … it’s a lot of hours,” Hickey stated. 

Both Baker and Hickey have been with Notre Dame Mock Trial team for all four of their years at the University. Hickey described her pride in the progress the teams have made. 

Notre Dame Mock Trial's B team will compete in ORCS later this month along with the A team.

“As a program, this is our second year in getting all three of our teams a bid [to ORCS],” Hickey said. “It kind of puts us up there among some of the other top programs in the country. It’s a big source of pride, and shows how awesome our freshmen and underclassmen are.” 

Sarah Fairbank and Jessica Vickery are two first-year newcomers who have been a vital part of the C team’s success and will act in supporting roles for the A and B teams moving forward. 

Fairbank discussed her experience with mock trial thus far and what she hopes to see from the team in the near future. 

“It’s a little intense, I’m not going to lie,” Fairbank said. “Everyone just had it in their head that we had to make it through regionals, and now that we got a bid out of regionals, we’re focused on nailing ORCS and hopefully getting a bid to nationals.” 

A group of coaches from Notre Dame Law School and an attorney from Indianapolis have been instrumental in providing professional experience and legal knowledge, Baker said.

Vickery expressed how mock trial team leaders have made the experience of competition worthwhile and meaningful as a first year. 

“All the upperclassmen are always willing to help,” Vickery commented. “Just a few weeks ago I asked Abby [Hickey] to get a coffee with me because I had so many questions about ORCS and how to balance mock trial with other stuff in life. She answered all of my questions and sat with me for an hour just talking to me about mock trial.” 

Endless hours of practice, dedicated team members and supportive leaders have led Notre Dame’s Mock Trial teams to a triumphant season and the possibility of securing a bid to Nationals. 

Notre Dame’s Mock Trial A and B teams will continue to practice and hone their skills until ORCS, which will take place from March 18 to March 20.