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Mock trial

From Academic Kids

A mock trial (sometimes synonymous with moot court, although the activities are often different) is a contrived or imitation trial. Attorneys preparing for a real trial might use a mock trial consisting of volunteers to test theories or experiment with arguments to try to predict the outcome of the real trial. In a mock trial the rules are often abbreviated in order to focus on particular parts of the trial.

Mock trial is also the name of an extracurricular program in which students participate in contrived or fake trials to learn new skills and compete with each other. At some law schools, the term trial advocacy is used for the program. Various organizations such as state bar associations sponsor mock trial/trial advocacy competitions for law students and high school students.

Mock Trial takes place on three levels. First there is high school competitive mock trial which has an annual national competition governed by the National Mock Trial Association [1] (http://nationalmocktrial.org). There is also competition on the college circuit, governed by American Mock Trial Association [2] (http://collegemocktrial.org). The college circuit also has an unofficial online forum at Perjuries Mock Trial [3] (http://perjuries.com). Finally, there is mock trial/trial advocacy at the Law School level. At this level, unlike the two previous levels, students compete not only for awards, but also for prestige that leads to high paying jobs.

Usually a mock trial team consists of three attorneys and three witnesses on each side of the case (plaintiff/prosecution and defense). The attorneys are responsible for delivering an opening statement, conducting direct and cross examinations of witnesses and delivering closing arguments. Judges are usually attorneys or coaches, and in some occasions, practicing judges.

In interscholastic mock trial/trial advocacy at a law school level, teams typically consist of several "attorneys" and several "witnesses" on each side. Every team in a tournament is given the same "problem" or "case" several months in advance, and they prepare to try the case from either side. The cases are carefully written in an attempt to create an equal chance of either side prevailing, since the main objective is not to identify the winner of the case, but rather the team with superior advocacy skills. Occationally the winners of mock trial tournaments receive special awards such as money or invitations to special events, but the status of winning a tournament is significant in and of itself.

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