CEDARVILLE — For the first time in Cedarville University history, a mock trial team competed in a collegiate tournament and finished the competition at St. Bonaventure University as one of the top teams. Overall, the two Cedarville teams of 19 students total, won four out of eight judges’ ballots.
“I was very pleased with how our first-ever mock trial team performed,” said Greg Thompson, professor of criminal justice and a retired member of the Air Force JAG Corps. “We will continue to improve with each competition as the students hone their ability to think critically and communicate with conviction and insight.”
The mock trial competition allows students with aspiring legal professions to gain experience in a courtroom. Student lawyers prosecute a case and others defend a client. Two judges score each round, awarding a ballot to the higher-scoring team. The overall ranking is based on the number of ballots each team wins at the end of the tournament.
The mock trial at the intercollegiate level requires each university team to prepare a defense and prosecution on a specific case. In competition, students simulate a trial, meaning they must play the roles of attorneys and witnesses. This simulated trial is unscripted, so competitors must know the intricacies of the court to be able to make split-second decisions during the trial to win the round. Individual competitors are also judged on the overall performance of their character.
Rachel Kidder, a freshman from Dacono, Colorado, majoring in psychology, was recognized for being the best prosecution witness in the tournament. Her experience in high school mock trial competitions was evident in Cedarville’s first competition.
Like many other mock trial students, competing in mock trial events has inspired Kidder to pursue law school after she graduates from Cedarville University.
“I hope to expand my knowledge of how to not only win a case but to represent Jesus and my clients well,” Kidder said. “As a lawyer, I know I will have significant responsibilities to serve my clients well and to demonstrate what it means to be a Christian lawyer. It will be a platform that I will embrace.”
While Kidder is focused on her future, Wes Rodu, a senior from Leetsdale, Pennsylvania, majoring in political science and economics, knows that it will take dedication from each member of the team to excel in competitions this year, and also to harness the skills that will prepare the students after graduation.
“As a co-captain of the team, I know these competitions are helping us hone our communication skills,” said Rodu. “As the season progresses, our team will spend up to six hours a week outside of class time preparing for future cases and roles. This is a great way to improve our skills and continue learning.”
The next competition for Cedarville’s Mock Trial team will be later this month at Kent State University