By Ryan Bolt
As spring semester approaches here at the University of Georgia it marks the end of another great season competing with the undergraduate mock trial team. For those unfamiliar, mock trial is an activity in which teams from all around the country simulate a criminal trial. Every year a new case is released complete with witness affidavits, relevant case law, and available evidence to be used during the simulation. Students compete as witnesses as well as lawyers and are scored based on their performance during the simulation. At every tournament, teams from different universities battle it out representing either the prosecution or defense to present their case. Mock trial provides a platform for students to improve their public speaking skills, engage in competitive acting as witnesses, or just learn a little more about our legal system in preparation for law school. And while other schools have coaches the University of Georgia mock trial team is completely student run. Everything between hosting our own tournament in Atlanta to learning the various applications of the law is student led and operated.
This fall season the ‘mockdawgs’ had the most competitive semester yet, bringing in a record number of trophies from over six tournaments. In Ohio, UGA swept the competition winning both first and second place against teams like Michigan, Ohio state, and Miami of Ohio. In Washington D.C., the mockdawgs pulled third place at the most competitive competition of the semester beating teams like Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Princeton. But for all of the competitive success we’ve had this semester nothing can replace the lifelong friendships we’ve made in this program. I was fortunate enough to captain a team this semester and helped welcome new members to the program. The fall semester is dedicated to teaching new members ‘how to mock’ and welcoming them to the mock family. While some enter the program having had many years of experience in high school others hear about mock trial through a friend and have never competed with a group before.
Out of all the organizations on campus it would be of no surprise to hear that the UGA mock trial program logs the most hours in total. Each of the teams in our program spend upwards of eighteen hours a week together perfecting case theory, practicing witness directs and crosses, and improving upon opening and closing statements.
Although mock trial is a huge time commitment, we wouldn’t do it if we weren’t all great friends as well. In fact, it would be pretty hard to spend that much time with a group of people without fostering lifelong friendships somewhere along the way. For many, including me, mock trial is our on-campus family that has shaped our experience here at the University of Georgia. Heading into the spring season we look forward to representing the University of Georgia at regionals, open round championships, and with any luck nationals as well!