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Trial team heads to Nationals

CASEY KENNY | Friday, April 9, 2010

Notre Dame’s Mock Trial Team 925 will compete with the best teams in the country at the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament April 16-18 in Memphis, Tenn.

In February, Notre Dame hosted the South Bend Regional from which the top teams advanced to the Opening Round National Championship series recently held in Illinois.

The Mock Trial Team 925 was among the top six teams from that competition to advance to nationals. The top six teams from each of eight opening round tournaments around the country advance to the nationals in Memphis, representing the top 48 teams from across the country.

The team consists of 10 members who have been preparing for the upcoming competition.
“We have spent countless hours preparing for the case, and I am really proud of our team for advancing this far,” co-captain Puja Parikh said. “We have almost lived and breathed Mock Trial this year, so this is definitely rewarding.”

The Notre Dame Mock Trial Association began in 1989 and includes both classroom work and competition experience.

“Basically, we simulate what occurs during a real trial,” Parikh said. “We get to be attorneys, both for the prosecution and defense, we put on witnesses that the attorneys direct and cross-examine in order to receive testimony, and as attorneys, enter in evidence, make objections and do opening and closing arguments.”

According to the association’s constitution, the purpose of the organization is “to stimulate reasoned and analytical thinking, to improve public speaking, to further individual experience in the legal field and in the courtroom, and to succeed in intercollegiate competition at the regional and national levels.”

Mock trial classes, which have been offered for credit by the College of Arts and Letters since 2002, provide an introduction to the fundamentals of arguing a case.

“Mock Trial class teaches students how a criminal or civil trial is carried out by using a hands-on approach,” team member senior David Crisostomo said. “With the exception of the presiding judge, all parts in a trial are played by students who act both as witnesses and the attorneys.”

Mock Trial Team 925 is expecting tough competition at the Nationals.

“Nationals is an opportunity to go against the best schools in the country and will be a very competitive environment,” Crisostomo said. “I am especially excited since this is the first time I have participated in the later levels of competition and it provides a great end to my mock trial career.”

Crisostomo also said he enjoys the commitment and camaraderie of the team members.

“The people involved in Mock Trial are some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met and have become some of my closest friends,” he said. “By the end of each year, the team feels more like a family.

“I guess the best evidence of the affinity for this program among Mock Trial members is that the alumni of the program will often visit to help coach or even judge in the competitions.”