UWP host mock trial invitational

December 4, 2003

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The UW-Platteville mock trial team prepares for their opening statement in round one Friday, Nov. 21 at the Platteville Invitational Mock Trial Tournament.

PLATTEVILLE-UW-Platteville Pioneer Student Center meeting rooms were transformed into courtrooms Friday, Nov. 21 and Sat. Nov. 22 as the University of Wisconsin -Platteville hosted it's sixth Mock Trial Invitational.

Every year in August the American Mock Trial Association distributes to its 260 member schools a 50 to 60-page case problem, which includes affidavits of witnesses, evidence and pleadings. The case problem is used in all competitions during the year. Each team has three attorneys and calls three witnesses in each round of competition. There are two judges in each round that score the students' performance.

The elements of a trial are an opening statement, the performance of the witnesses, on direct and cross-examination, and the closing argument. Public speaking and acting skills, knowledge of the case, the rules of evidence and procedure are taken into account.

In addition to teams from UWP, teams from the University of Iowa, Loras College, Central College, Luther College, UW-La Crosse, St. Ambrose College and UW-Milwaukee participated in the event. Undergraduate students from a variety of majors are participants.

"The most immediate advantage for the teams participating in this tournament is that they gain trial experience in preparation for the regional qualifying tournaments in February. About 450 teams from all across the county participate in 17 regional tournaments competing for about 100 bids to national tournaments," said John Rink, UWP professor of social sciences and advisor for the UWP Mock Trial Team. "The tournament provides students the best opportunity to reinforce a variety of skills including thinking on one's feet, teamwork, persuasive speaking, organization, preparation, leadership and many others that have applicability in every walk of life."

A Loras College team placed first, the University of Iowa team placed second, another Loras College team placed third and fourth place was sealed up by Luther College. Eight outstanding attorney and seven outstanding witness awards were also presented to participants.

"I've always seen these competitions as part of our effort to realize the University's mission to be a regional academic leader. We've certainly proven that with the 74 awards we've won over the past seven years at all levels, including five national team awards and eight national individual awards. UWP students need to know that they can compete successfully against students from prestigious schools everywhere in highly challenging academic competition. The students learn a great deal, they meet students from many other schools, and they have a lot of fun," said Rink.

There is one set of qualifying tournaments held at 17 locations across the country. Each regional qualifying tournament has between 24 and 28 teams. The top three finishers in each tournament go to Des Moines, Iowa for a tournament. Teams ranking fourth through sixth will be evenly distributed between Richmond and St. Petersburg. The Richmond and St. Petersburg tournaments take place first, and the top two teams in each of those tournaments also go to Des Moines, Iowa.

"It was a great experience for our team. They were all together for the first time when they met to compete in round one, otherwise they've practiced on their own whenever then could get time. None of them [participants from UWP] had any previous intercollegiate mock trial experience," said Rink. "I've never seen a group of complete newcomers do so well in their first tournament."

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