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Mock Trial kicks off the year with tournament at Drake University

 Anna Luber (‘20) and Claire Eichorn (‘19) prepare for the tournament.

Anna Luber (‘20) and Claire Eichorn (‘19) prepare for the tournament.

Lily Kime (‘19) | Chips

Lily Kime (‘19) | Chips

Anna Luber (‘20) and Claire Eichorn (‘19) prepare for the tournament.

Natalie Nelson, Staff Writer

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Luther’s two Mock Trial teams competed in their first tournament at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa last weekend. The ‘A’ team scored 2-5-1 and the ‘B’ team scored 2-6. The tournament was just the start to an exciting season.

Teams from different schools compete against one another to win a fictional case. This is the first time in many years that Luther has had two teams compete. When asked why the team has expanded, Captain of Mock Trial Anika Nelson (‘19) joked that she thought it was because they had salt water taffy at their table during the activities fair. Nelson said that she is very excited about the team’s growth.

“We definitely have to be a lot more organized,” Nelson said. “But it’s nice because we can bounce ideas back and forth between the two teams and just compare [witnesses]. You can only call three [witnesses], so we’re calling different witnesses for each side so we can see what is going to work better for regionals. Then hopefully we can make it to nationals.”

The teams prepare a defense and a prosecution for the trial, and in each round, they compete against another school. Nelson said the most challenging part of being in such a time-consuming activity is time management.

“There’s a lot you have to do right before the tournament,” Nelson said. “It’s hard to find a balance because you have to be human and then a student first. That’s what we always tell people that are on the team, because that has to be your first priority but you still have to be committed to Mock Trial, so it’s making sure that you find the right amount of time to add Mock Trial to your week.”

Photo Courtesy of Claire Eichorn (‘19)
Luther’s Mock Trial B-team. Back row, Left to right: Steve Hadaway (‘21), Kai Storvick (‘21), Laura Schueler (‘19), Claire Twedt (‘21). Front row, left to right: Meta Miller (‘21), Aiden Berdahl (‘21), Maren Gabor (‘21), Anna Lavender (‘21).

Co-captain Claire Eichhorn (‘19) is enthusiastic about this year’s case.

“This is one of the best cases we’ve had in awhile,” Eichhorn said. “Last year we had an age discrimination case, which was interesting but it got a little dry. This year’s case involves attempted murder. It involves a dating app like Tinder, food trucks, and an affair. It’s a really interesting case and there’s a lot going on so it’s been hard to figure out where we want to go with this.”

Professor of Political Science Michael Engelhardt has been the coach of Mock Trial since 1994. He thinks the activity is valuable for students who are interested in law.

“[Mock trial] was started by Richard Calkins, who was Dean of the Law School at Drake, and he wanted something that would get possible law students to visit Drake and it has really gone a long way from there,” Engelhardt said. “It’s aimed partly at getting kids interested in law school or possibly deciding that they don’t want to go to law school. I enjoy working with the students, and improving their confidence and their ability to speak.”

Eichhorn joined Mock Trial because of an interest in law and felt that the experience helped inform her about the field.
“It has definitely taught me how different trial is than how you would think,” Eichorn said. “There’s a lot of vocabulary and of different etiquette to learn. But it’s definitely been really helpful and it’s kind of fun once you learn all the different rules and things that go along with it. It has definitely helped me to start thinking more critically as well as putting together persuasive arguments.”

Nelson agreed that Mock Trial had helped her develop better speaking abilities, and she said the skills it teaches apply to all disciplines and lines of work.

“It can be a little stressful, but at the same time it really prepares you for being able to give a ten minute speech on your feet, which is something that I think is valid for speaking skills and now I know how to present an argument well,” Nelson said. “If anything, it’s a great thing to put on your resume, because for graduate law school, or even just working a job, if they see that you were in Mock Trial or were captain of Mock Trial, it’s instantly recognized as amazing.”
Nelson thinks the team has a good chance of going to nationals this year and she looks forward to the rest of the season.

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