16:35 PM

Regional Mock Trial Tournament Hosted by UST Is Judged a Success

Mock trial lawyer making an argument“Nerve-wracking, intense and fun” describes the campus-courtroom atmosphere over the weekend as the University of St. Thomas-Houston hosted the Houston Regional Mock Trial Tournament sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Two of the 15 regionals held this year nationwide took place in Texas, at Baylor and UST.

Hosting the Event

“Not only did we have a team in the mix, but as the host, St. Thomas rounded up lawyers and third-year law students to judge the trials,” Associate Professor and Pre-Law Advisor Dr. Rick Young said. “Our tournament used about 40 judges. The host also provided the courtrooms for the trials and a tabulation room for the two AMTA representatives who run the tournament.”

One of the mock trial teamsThe field of competitors consisted of 15 teams from UST (one team), University of Texas-Austin (two teams), Southern Methodist University (two teams), Baylor (one team), University of Louisiana at Monroe (two teams), Houston Christian University (two teams), Rice University (two teams), University of Houston (two teams), and Texas A&M (one team).

Rigorous Preparation Began Months Ago

Students had been preparing for the three-day event since August of the fall semester.

“The fact situation and trial notebooks are the same for each team,” Young explained. “This year’s problem is a civil suit brought by a survivor of an airplane crash that killed her husband. Students have been studying the trial processes, the rules of evidence, and the problem for months.”

Mock trial with plaintiff's lawyers and defendant's lawyersA Realistic Courtroom Experience

Young calls the mock trials “very realistic but limited by the size of each team.”

He said, “Each trial inevitably includes passionate argument between opposing lawyers over the interpretation of various rules and especially the Rules of Evidence. The presiding judge will sustain or overrule the lawyers’ motions and objections. And the witnesses can be highly entertaining.”

COVID Judged Guilty of Harming Some Mock Trial Programs

The tournament is a testament to program resilience at the competing universities.

“COVID stopped the face-to-face tournaments for three years,” Young said. “Many mock trial programs throughout the country were affected negatively, including our team. However, St. Thomas has been working hard to restart the program, and we have done that successfully. We are very proud of our students and have every reason to believe that we will return to our winning ways by next year.”

The four winners at the latest tournament were both UT teams, one University of Louisiana at Monroe team, and one Houston Christian University team. They will go on to compete at the opening Round Championship hosted by UT Arlington in Dallas.

The UST team comprised Alyssa Davila, Co-Captain; Lily Vo, Co-Captain; Lesly Trujillo; Alice Romero; Josh Flores; Luke Stein; Laura Newcomer; Edgardo Giron; Julius Showalter; and Jerry Reyes. The coaches were Brian Jordan and Graham Taylor.