Mock Trial brings region to Washburn

Fatima Oubaid / Washburn Review

This past weekend, the American Mock Trial Association hosted its regional tournament competition at Washburn University.

More than 20 teams from around the region competed from states including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. The teams competed in order to win one of the top eight spots which allows them to go on to nationals, which will be held in March at St. Louis.

There were four rounds in which the teams went against another region team alternating between roles of prosecution and defense. The teams competed to win ballots from the judges. The judges are people from around the community who are attorneys, judges and current law students.

There is only one case that is used all year that is created by the American Mock Trial Association and is announced in August to the teams. The competing teams are then given a packet with all the materials they need to present the case.

The packet contains information such as legal terms, witness affidavit and any exhibits the teams can introduce as evidence. The contestants study the packet and develop theories for the trial, which witnesses they will call and develop questions for both sides of the case.

“I’ve been doing mock trial competitions for four years,” said Jane Billinger, a mock trial contestant for Washburn. “To prepare for a trial we usually practice with our partner on some weeks and altogether on most others. We essentially practice about six hours total a week.”

The teams usually compete three to four times in the fall semester and then three to four times in the spring semester.

“For me, the most interesting part about a mock trial is being able to see what the other teams bring and how my team and I will react to it,” said Billinger.

There is no experience required for anyone interested in joining the mock trial team. There are, however, GPA requirements and a mock trial course that must be taken during the first semester of competing.

“I’ve never turned anyone away who was interested in joining,” said Jim Schnoebelen the Washburn mock trial coach and coordinator. “There’s two types of students who usually join the mock trial team. There’s the students who are really interested in going to Law School and the students who are merely curious about the activity.”

Either way, all students who are interested in being a part of the mock trial team for next fall, are required to contact Schnoebelen.

You can reach him at [email protected] or by phone at 785-670-1426.