Mock trial team has become a serious success

It all began when two friends discovered that the University, respected for its law school, did not have a mock trial team.
Two years later, the team has not only formed a team that has doubled in size with a variety of students, but also qualified for a national tournament — again.
The University’s Mock Trial Association will be going to the Silver Flight National Tournament in March for the second time.
“This is a good confidence builder,” said Kim Leo, president of the group. She said she feels the association helps students gain experience and also helps students academically.
Leo and Steve Wehling, both seniors at the University, started the group fall quarter of 1995. They were transfer students and involved in mock trials at their former schools.
Since last year, membership has doubled to 16 members. Wehling, vice president for the association, said the team was more visible this year.
Being recognized as an official student organization this year helped increase membership, Wehling said. During the 1995-96 school year, the mock trial team was not an official organization.
Although they are recognized by the University as an organization, the team members have done a lot of fundraising and were the received a grant from Coca-Cola.
Pre-law majors are not the only students involved with the Mock Trial Association. Wehling said that the majors range from genetics to aerospace engineering.
Students studying subjects other than pre-law are on the team to enhance their speaking and organizational skills, Wehling said.
“We’ll take anybody who’s interested,” Wehling said. “This is a way to get an edge in life.”
Wehling also said that with the variety of students, the team brings in more argument ideas than other teams. “The team can think of angles that other teams would not have thought of,” Wehling said.
Richard Danich, secretary of the association, said that the team has to know the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. The team has to know when to object and when to make the tough arguments.
“You have to hit every team’s curve ball,” Danich said.
For the group, each fall is a new season. It receives one fictitious case that might be a civil or a criminal trial.
This year, the trial involves a college student who was injured at a bar. He is suing the bar owner for damages.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s really social,” Wehling said.
The team usually meets three times a week for three to five hours for practice. The members usually prepare by practicing the arguments and questions with each other.
“It’s fun,” Danich said. “I don’t think anyone would be here if it wasn’t any fun.”
The team placed 11th out of 30 teams during the North Regional Mock Trial Tournament at Macalester College in February. This qualified them for a national tournament. Leo was given the award for “best attorney” at the same tournament.
Last year at the nationals, the association was 14th out of 40 teams. The group also received the award for “Outstanding New School.”
This was not the first mock trial team at the University. Leo said a team was created about 10 years ago by a group of seniors. Once the season was over, however, there was no one to keep the team alive.