Mock Trial Expands


Annalise Meyer ('23)

Theresa Easley ('22), Jocelyn Defauw ('23), Maddie Gregurek ('22), and Sadie Pichelmann ('23) watch Peter Stelter's ('21) argument.

Luther College’s Mock Trial teams experienced unprecidented growth this fall, leading to the formation of a third team. Luther College has never had a C team in its Mock Trial history. Comprised predominantly of first years and others new to Mock Trial, the whole team was eager to participate in their first tournament of the season.

  The Mock Trial team had its first tournament during the weekend of Oct. 11-13 in the Twin Cities.  Known as the Nordic Undergraduate Mock Battle XII, the invitational was held at the Unniveristy of Minnesota’s West Bank campus. Luther sent two separate teams to compete in the conference, while C team observed in preparation for their first competative trial, which will take place later this month. They finished with a record of 5-3 for A team and 1-6-1 for B team.  A team ranked 7th out o f 25 teams, and Kyle Brusco ‘22) won an outstanding attorney award, and was rewarded with a mini rubber duck in a long boat and viking helm. 

The mock trial program saw an unexpected increase in members this year. While mock trial teams usually consist of two groups, the expansion this year has resulted in an additional team. The C team was created in order to incorporate the new members, the majority of which have had no experience with the extracurricular activity. 

“The most that we’ve had to train is maybe two to three people a season,” A team co-captain Peter Stelter (‘21) said. “Now, we have an entire composite team of eight people to which we have to teach all of the aspects about mock trial: how to write a direct examination, how to write a cross examination, openings, closings, the law, trial etiquette, and everything in between. . . It sounds difficult in theory, but the team and everyone that’s new has had such an amazing work ethic.” 

Another challenge that the larger team brings is  financing the economic needs of three groups. While the team hosts fundraising events, such as a Culver’s night and T-shirt sales, the money from these oppurtunitys rarely covers the costs of the teams, and grant approvals have thus far fallen through.  

“Our budget has been tight to begin with for an A and B team,” B team co-captain Maddie Gregurek (‘22) said. “To fit a C team in, we’ve tried to look for some outside grants, but competitions have entry fees that normally range anywhere in the hundreds of dollars. Plus, we have hotels and materials and case licensing. So we are struggling right now with financing our team.”

As a Mock Trial team, participants partake in an imitation of a court proceeding. Participants rehearse trials to demonstrate their understanding of the legal system in a competitive atmosphere. This year, for example, the mock trial competition utalized a case in which a mother is accused of pushing her child off of a cliff. 

“It’s a lot of memorization, of practicing, of making sure you sound natural,” former mock trial captain Katrina Meyer (‘19) said. “If you’re an attorney, you need to know what objections to make, what objections you think are coming, and how to respond to objections that you might get. You need to know your case law.  The witnesses have to know their affidavits really well because  you can be asked anything, and if you make a mistake the other team can impeach you. You really just need to be on your toes.” 

The origins of college mock trial can be traced back to 1985, where it was established at Drake Law School. A mock trial team typically has two groups that compete at tournaments. Each group has 10 members who work to build cases  for the prosecution and defense in the trial. Groups do not learn whether they will act as the prosecution or the defense until the first round of their tournament, so they must prepare for both. 

While this year brings a new set of challenges, the team is optimistic about the coming year of competition. 

“I think we have a really good group this year,”  mock trial member Anna Luber (‘20) said. “We have a lot of bright minds on the team. We have a great time; we always have. We are all great friends. Besides that, it’s really taught me how to argue and how to stand up and talk in public, and those are very valuable skills.”

Mock Trial’s next tournament will happen the weekend of Oct. 26-27 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. C team will make their competative debute at this event. 

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