At Haverford College’s “Black Squirrel Invitational,” on Oct. 22-23, Hamilton Mock Trial celebrated a number of firsts: the first tournament of the year, the first competition for new members (Bryce Murdick ’20, and Michael Wang ’19), and the first tournament where Hamilton’s Mock Trial program competed with two teams.
From now through March 2017, all college mock trial teams will argue the case of Winter v. TBD Inc., a civil suit in which the plaintiff, Riley Winter, alleges that he was fired because he was 50-years-old. The laws of the fictional state that the team argues in, Midlands, closely align with federal age discrimination statutes and rules of evidence, allowing team members to understand and argue complex concepts with real-world implications.
Another benefit of mock trial competitions is that they’re often judged by practicing or retired attorneys and judges. This means that the comments and criticisms that students receive are invaluable, especially to those considering law school. This weekend, one judge, Michael Senoyuit, remarked that the field of law has become overrun with lawyers who “aren’t willing to put in the work.” Senoyuit further stated that anyone competing in mock trial could feel confident that they would not face that problem since all of the students demonstrated impressive passion, dedication, and attention to detail in preparing for the tournament.
The tournament weekend was exciting for several reasons, most notably, Hamilton’s roster was divided into two six-person teams, allowing all competing students to demonstrate their full understanding and grasp of the case material. More impressively, this shift in organization was pitched, structured and implemented entirely by student team members and captains. Unlike other college mock trial programs, Hamilton’s is entirely student-run. Team members argue that this structure helps them stay accountable to themselves and to each other, while facilitating better understanding of the case materials and rules of evidence.
Overall, Hamilton brought two highly competitive teams to the tournament, one of which placed third, following closely behind George Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, co-captain Andrew Fischer ’17 and Bryce Murdick ’20 both won individual awards for being outstanding witnesses. Despite common misconceptions, mock trial involves more than just an interest in law since students can be cast as witnesses. For example, Fischer portrayed a German expert witness who specialized in age discrimination while Murdick portrayed the CEO of TBD Inc., the defendant in the case.
Other competing members at this tournament were: Co-Captain Caroline Reppert ’17, Silvia Radulescu ’17, Samantha Weckenman ’17, Ryan Bloom ’18, Jonathan Stanhope ’18, Rachel Dawson ’19, Samantha Gordon ’19, Brad Marston ’19, Patrick McConnell ’19, and Michael Wang ’19.