In the first tournament of the 2014-15 Mock Trial season, Wheaton beat 21 other teams from colleges and universities across the nation. The four-round invitational tournament called “Thunderdome” was held in Blanchard Hall, the BGC, Jenks Hall and the MSC last weekend. It was the second time a tournament had been hosted at Wheaton College. Sophomore Selby Mills, the cabinet member who is in charge of public relations and fundraising said that Wheaton had never won its own tournament prior to Oct. 18.
According to Mills, Mock Trial is a competitive court experience in which students play the roles of both attorneys and witnesses. One school represents the plaintiff and another school represents the defense. Both schools compete against each other in a simulated trial, she said, adding that the American Mock Trial Association releases a new case every year that provides the affidavits — which are the stories of the witnesses — and the rules of evidence for each team to use to develop their case strategy.
This year the case is Park versus Duran. According to junior president Jasmine Stein, it is about an 11 year-old girl who gets shot and whether or not her parents or the parents of the child who shot her are responsible.
Team members Stein, Mills, sophomore Clarke Doig and freshman Charis Valmores received individual awards. Stein and Doig, the team captains, received Outstanding Mock Trial Attorney awards, and Mills and Valmores received Outstanding Mock Trial Witness awards. The latter two wore outfits to “match their character(s),” Stein informed. The top seven teams at the tournament all received awards, with Wheaton College A Team receiving first place and its B team placing seventh.
Stein said that the Wheaton Mock Trial team has two evenly divided teams that competed this weekend. Although the results use the terms “A” and “B,” Stein said the teams are not composed that way yet. She clarified that the “Blue” team placed first at the tournament with a record of 7-1 and that the “Orange” team placed seventh with a record of 5-3. The Blue team faced Hillsdale A, ISU, the Bye-buster team and University of Notre Dame B. The Orange team faced Loras College A, Carthage College, ISU and Hillsdale B.
Some teams were “stacked” at the tournament, having all of their best team members on one team, according to Stein, while Wheaton’s teams were evenly split. Despite facing such “stacked” teams, Wheaton won first and seventh place out of 22 teams.
“We have a lot of team members who are brand new to Mock Trial. The fact that we placed first and seventh under those circumstances attests to the hard work of the team and the excellent coaching of our attorney coaches,” Stein added.
“One highlight (of the tournament) was just seeing the marked improvement of both the Orange and Blue teams over just two days! While it was sometimes a hectic weekend and having the tournament over fall break meant we had to miss the first two days of break, it was all worth it watching the growth and improvement,” Stein concluded.
Sophomore Mock Trial assistant tournament director Lauren Hawthorne said, “(Stein and Doig) are excellent leaders, and I am so excited to see where they take our team this year. We also have wonderful and dedicated attorney coaches, Diane Michalak and Brooks Locke.”
Hawthorne also said that the first rounds of competition, the regional playoffs, begin in February. Upon doing well at regionals, teams move to the Opening Round of the Championship series, and after that, the National competition. Hawthorne said that last year, the Wheaton B team made it to ORCS and the Wheaton A team to nationals, ranking 11th. Wheaton College’s team is currently the number one team in the state of Illinois.