Hamilton Mock Trial debuted its two teams and six of seven new members at Haverford College’s “Black Squirrel Invitational” on Nov. 4-6.
From now through March 2018, all college Mock Trial teams will argue the case of State v. Hendricks, a criminal case in which a victim, Kerry Bell-Leon claims to have been strangled, nearly to death, by his/her spouse’s lover. Bell-Leon now claims that his/her spouse and the spouse’s lover were planning this attack so that they could avoid the messy divorce details and end up on the winning side of the prenuptial agreement.
This tournament also marks the second round of Hamilton’s experiment with two six-person teams. Though this set-up puts significantly more work on each individual member, it drastically increases the benefits that students receive from attending each competition. For example, since team members have to be on both sides of the case, they’re better able to hone their advocacy and critical thinking skills.
In each of the rounds, judges praised team members’ preparation and handle of the complex material, especially given how early in the season it is. While some tournaments only have practicing attorneys as judges, the “Black Squirrel Invitational” was particularly valuable insofar as it also drew on Mock Trial alumni, graduate students, and various professionals in unrelated fields. While it’s great to hear feedback on legal arguments from lawyers, it’s difficult to get a sense for the strength of a case without hearing from someone more detached from the law.
Overall, both Hamilton teams faced some tough competition, and each ended up with a win record of 4-4, with close matchups against schools like Cornell and University of Texas at Dallas, which ultimately placed second and third in the tournament, respectively.
In addition, co-captains Conor O’Shea ’18 and Ryan Bloom ’18 each earned individual awards for being outstanding attorneys. While both O’Shea and Bloom plan to attend law school, and reflect on Mock Trial as a great foundational experience, the program offers much more than just assurance and affirmation to pre-law students. In fact, there’s a significant amount of acting, both memorized and improvised, making Mock Trial the center of several overlapping activities.
Other competing members at this tournament were: Thomas Duda ’18, Patrick McConnell ’19, Jordan D’Addio ’20, Isabelle Mosbarger ’20, Bryce Murdick ’20, Grecia Santos ’20, Mohammad Umar ’20, Gianni Hill ’21, Emma Liles ’21, and Ryan Stewart ’21.