By Will Brown
Millsaps College Mock Trial is one of the newest organizations on campus, but is quickly becoming one of the most successful. Starting just six years ago, the nationally ranked Mock Trial program has enjoyed victories and awards at competitions all over the country. Representing Millsaps College on a national scale, they’ve competed against teams like Yale University, American University, and Vanderbilt University just to name a few. These experiences and successes have led the organization to earning the prestigious award of “Organization of the Year” for two consecutive years, an award given by the Student Body Association.
This past weekend, part of the Millsaps Mock Trial team travelled to Louisville, Ky. to compete in their regional tournament. While in Louisville, they finished 4-4. The team has had a run of consistent success that they have achieved in multiple tournaments throughout the spring semester.
Millsaps College’s Mock Trial team is divided into three different competitive squads: A, B and C teams. Each is comprised of students of varying experience levels. At the first tournament of the spring semester in Pensacola, Florida, the C team won second place and several individual awards. They also brought back individual awards from tournaments in Alabama and Louisiana. The A team got fifth place in the Jackson, Mississippi Regional Tournament with a record of 6-2, earning a bid to the Opening Round Championship Series in Decatur, Georgia. They will compete on the weekend of March 16th-19th.
“The team is in a great position,” Mock Trial President Alexander Nelson-Fryar said. “We put together a great package at regionals. There is always room to grow by staying organized, composed, not making mental mistakes, and focusing on what we have to get done.”
Nelson-Fryar is a Senior Business Administration major, from Houston, Texas. He competes as a double-sided attorney, as well as the closer for both the plaintiff and the defense. “As a closer, you have to tie everything together that happens in the entire case and hope to convince the judge and the jury that you’ve met the burden of proof and your side should win.” Nelson-Fryar said.
During the season, which starts in August, the case is tweaked in order to be balanced between the plaintiff and the defense. However, the team practiced the same case for all of their tournaments in the Spring semester. The fictional case details employment discrimination based on age. In this year’s case, a 50-year-old writer is fired from a TBD, a fictional magazine that had recently gone digital. The plaintiff argues that the firing was a case of age discrimination, using evidence that the CEO made discriminatory remarks towards older people. The defense argues that the firing was a business decision, and the writer was out of touch with the readers and hurting the company.
“It was a business decision. The writer was not making any money,” says Kendall Hardy, a Communications major, from San Antonio, Texas. Hardy is the captain and lead attorney of her team. Hardy serves as captain of the C team and led them to many successes throughout the Spring semester.
Last Wednesday, I attended the final practice before the C team competed at the regional tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. The attorneys practiced their direct examinations of their witnesses, sharpened their opening statements, and outlined their closing arguments. Witnesses trained themselves on the facts of the case, making sure that their roles would be filled as realistically as possible.
In the tournament last weekend, Kendall Hardy, Joshua McSwain, Noah Simpson, and Ashley Chang competed as attorneys, representing the plaintiff and defense over the course of the weekend. Representing the team as witnesses were Vanessa and Roxanne El Shamy, Tanisha Singal, and Michael Kuhlhorst.
Throughout the practice, the lawyers worked on questioning their witnesses. The main witnesses for this tournament were Vanessa El Shamy, Roxanne El Shamy, Michael Kuhlhorst, and Tanisha Singal. The lawyers practiced questioning their own witnesses as well as the witnesses for the opposing side, a practice known as the cross examination. The main purpose of the cross examination was to throw holes into the opponents argument and outline the scope of the witnesses knowledge.
The Mock Trial teams have to practice representing both the plaintiff and the defense for their tournaments. In each round of the tournament, one school is the plaintiff and another school is the defense. There are four total rounds of the tournament.