By Maggie O’Hara
A group of UCI students will pack up their suits and board a plane to Minnesota to compete in the 34th Annual Mock Trial National Championship this weekend, April 20-22.
Mock trial is an extracurricular activity in which students are given the fact pattern of a fake court case and accompanying materials, such as evidentiary exhibits, expert deposition testimony, and stipulations.
Using these materials, the students must thoughtfully prepare a case for both the prosecution and defense. After some preparation, the team presents their case in competition against another team.
UCI’s Mock Trial team has been preparing their case, an attempted murder, since October. Outside of hosting two weekend-long tournaments at home, the team has also travelled throughout three states to attend invitational tournaments sponsored by other universities.
In February, UCI’s Mock Trial Team competed at two regional competitions in Fresno, CA, and Tempe, AZ. While the team did not receive any bids to the next level of competition at their regionals in Fresno, they received two bids to regionals in Tempe.
All of these tournaments culminated in a semi-final round dubbed “ORCS,” or the Opening Championship Round Series Tournament of the national competition. UCI’s teams attended the only competition of its kind west of the Mississippi River, which was sponsored by UCLA and held at the Santa Monica Courthouse on the weekend of March 9-11.
ORCS was a massive success for the UCI Mock Trial Team. As two of the top six teams at the competition, UCI’s team secured two bids to the National Competition in Minnesota. Four team members also earned individual awards as outstanding witnesses and attorneys.
Head Coach Emily Shaw said that, after learning of the team’s win, she “felt an immense sense of pride at our collective accomplishment, and joy at the knowledge that so many of my students would soon be able to experience competition at the highest level.”
For the past three weeks, the team has been hard at work getting ready for the national competition, which requires that they prepare an entirely new case and take on new roles within the team. This weekend, they’ll test their skills against other top mock trial programs in the country, including teams from Harvard University, Yale University, and many other UCs.
The opportunity to compete at the national level is, as Coach Shaw described, “something we’ve worked very hard for together over the course of months, and it’s wonderful to see that effort paying off.”