Western offers students a way to gain practical courtroom experience and skills

Student Mock Trial
Mock Trial introduces students to real criminal or civil cases to prepare for trial after graduation.

Mock Trial is a competition where students become immersed in a hypothetical but detailed case. Students study the relevant laws relating to the case, read through detailed statements by the plaintiff, defendant and witnesses, and review various exhibits or pieces of evidence related to the case.

“How I found student and faculty interest [about Mock Trial] was easy. I started to get more involved with other clubs including the Student Government Association and the Model UN team,” said Warren Knutson,the student who set up and started the Mock Trial.

“Being an active member in these groups reminded me of how much fun I had in my high school Mock Trail. With a little research, I found schools like CU Boulder have highly competitive Mock Trial teams. This made me think that if CU could have this team that it was something that Western could achieve too,” said Knutson.

Knutson reached out to Professor Bernhardt and Dr. Jeffrey Dykes to propose the idea of a Mock Trial team on campus. Knutson worked with the professors to build student interest and get the idea up and running.

“When fall came around, I hosted an information meeting during one of the Politics Club meetings when I was astounded by the number of students who had shown an interest in the Mock Trial team,” said Knutson.

“During the meeting that followed I came to appreciate all the different individuals who came to a meeting just to see what it was all about,” he replied.

Mock Trial students take on the roles of lawyers and witnesses for each side and act out the trial. Doing so demands that students have detailed knowledge of the case, know how to conduct strong questions to guide their witnesses along and are able to make objections to the opposing side when appropriate.

“Mock Trial is still in its beginning stages, but it is not yet a formal club. Any student can join. Participating students have come from across numerous different majors,” said Professor Brian Bernhardt, who teaches Politics and Government.

Any students who have an interest in law and a passion for developing strong logic and argumentation skills are welcome to participate. This coming fall semester will be prime time for the Mock Trial to begin working and starting the journey to competition.

Mock Trial is a great way for students to gain experience in the field of politics and law, an area Western students already excel in, as evidenced by their 100% acceptance rate into Law school.

If a student has any questions, they are welcome to contact Professor Bernhardt at bbernhardt@western.org, Dr. Dykes at jdykes@western.org or Warren Knutson at warren.knutson@western.edu

Story by Grace Flynn.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 2:45pm