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Mock trial tournament brings top programs to Elon

The 5th annual Carolina Classic Mock Trial Invitational included 24 teams representing 19 colleges and universities from across the country.

Elon University's Mock Trial officers, from left: Elayne Monjar, Amanda Stearns, Parker Tobin and Andrew Stevenson.

A 21st birthday celebration ends in tragedy when the daughter of a prominent prosecutor dies after her friend loses control of the vehicle they were in, and that driver now faces a multi-count indictment charging him with murder and driving under the influence.

That was the premise of a fictional situation argued in the 5th annual Carolina Classic Mock Trial Invitational at Elon University, which brought to campus some of the biggest names in undergraduate mock trial competition, including returning teams Harvard, George Washington University and the University of Virginia, which won last year’s tournament.

Hundreds of undergraduates representing 24 teams from 19 colleges and universities took part in the Oct. 14-16 contest that ultimately prepared competitors for the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament. Elon’s first round started Friday evening in the Koury Business Center following an opening reception, with the final round taking place Sunday morning.

The top trial teams, with their respective records, for the 5th Annual Carolina Classic Mock Trial Invitational:

1. University of South Carolina - Team 1132 - 7-1
2. University of Virginia - Team 1100 - 6-1-1
3. Loras College - Team 1157 - 6-2 (17 CS)
4. University of Virginia - Team 1099 - 6-2 (14 CS)
5. University of Cincinnati - Team 1290 - 6-2 (14 CS)

During Round 4 on Sunday morning, Elon’s Mock Trial “B” team, composed primarily of sophomores and one junior, defeated Harvard University by 29 points. Harvard is one of the most successful mock trial programs in the country, with three appearances in the national championship trial in the past six years.

“Elon's invitation-only mock trial tournament has quickly risen to become one of the premier tournaments in the country,” said William Warihay ’07, L’10, who founded the mock trial program at the university and today serves as its adviser. “Last year, 95 percent of the teams that competed at Elon went on to compete in the national tournament in the spring.

“As our tournament has continued to impress the teams that attend over the years, the level of competition and interest has increased exponentially.”

Elon University Mock Trial participants in the 2011 Carolina Classic Mock Trial Invitational.

How does mock trial work? Each year, teams at various colleges are given one case to examine, and it’s that same case they will argue at each invitational they attend. A mock trial team must understand the legal arguments for both the plaintiff and the defendant, since teams will take part in several rounds at each tournament, alternating their roles between the two sides in an effort to score points.

Mock trial teams divide responsibilities between members. Some serve as the attorneys, while others memorize the details that “witnesses” provide when taking the stand. The American Mock Trial Association, of which Elon is a member and which counts nearly 6,000 students among its rolls this year, serves as the governing body for mock trial tournaments in the United States.

The tournament only included undergraduate teams.

The university also has the support of the Greensboro and Alamance County chapters of the North Carolina Bar Association and of students and faculty in the School of Law. These organizations provide volunteer judges for the mock trial contest.

Teams taking part in the 2011 Carolina Classic Mock Trial Invitational were drawn from the following colleges and universities:

Duke University
Eastern Kentucky University
Elon University
Emory University
Furman University
George Washington University
Harvard University
Loras College
Patrick Henry College
Pennsylvania State University
University of Central Florida
University of Cincinnati
University of Maryland
University of North Carolina
University of South Carolina
University of Tennessee
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt University
Washington & Lee University

Eric Townsend,
10/20/2011 9:32 AM