Order in the Court

Dec 022008
Authors: Brian Anthony

On Sept. 24, 2006, after a fiery debate between professor Lane Hamilton and Midlands gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton, shots were fired. /

Lane Hamilton was killed.

Within an hour, Blitz News Network’s Reagan Thomas, who was at the debate, reported that Walton had killed Hamilton.

Thomas refuted the report, claiming Hamilton had committed suicide.

Now Thomas is suing BNN for defamation.

Each year the CSU Mock Trial team receives a situation like this, whose fictional characters and events are given to them by the American Mock Trial Association to conduct a simulated trial.

Johanna Hamburger, a senior political science, started the Mock Trial team and economics double major, which is now in its third year at CSU.

Hamburger said that she participated in Mock Trial her senior year of high school and “thought it would be a good addition to the diversity of organizations on campus.”

“It’s aimed toward pre-law and criminal justice majors, but anyone and everyone can join.”

“It’s all skill development. I thought people would enjoy it.”

This year’s team consists of eightmembers and is mostly comprised of freshmen.

Much like a real trial, the team gets a case with affidavits and evidence. Each team picks teammates who they wish to represent their witnesses. Also, the team is expected to call witnesses, have opening and closing statements, and object. In practice, it is quite common to hear “objection,” “admissible,” “evidence” and other typical courtroom jargon creating a rather conducive environment to learning the ins and outs of the competition.

Like Hamburger, many of the members had participated in Mock Trial in high school and enjoy the flexibility and differences allowed at the collegiate level.

Alex Romberg, a freshman theater and psychology double major, said the main difference between the college team and high school team is that the collegiate team is much smaller.

“Here it’s just the eight of us, so it makes it much easier to have a discussion and gives us a lot more responsibility.”

Freshman zoology major David Fraiser-Jones agreed, saying that he enjoys the extra freedom that is given in college mock trial because it enables students to be creative.

“It helps that we have so much talent in our group among the veterans, all of whom came from serious mock trial teams in high school and I’ve learned a great deal/from since my high school team wasn’t all that serious.”

Rachael Gigar, a freshman English education major, is one of the few without previous Mock Trial experience.

Gigar joined Mock Trial because she enjoys “both debating and acting, and Mock Trial is a good mix of the two.”

“It also gives me a chance to indulge my love of law and its practices.”

Rachel Schrader, a freshman biological sciences major, said she thinks the American Mock Trial Association is “a crash course of mental preparation, organization and logical thinking.

“However, the characters in college can be molded more to fit your case, which is a nice change.”

The team will put its knowledge and practice to use on Dec. 6 in Colorado Springs in a scrimmage against CU-Colorado Springs.

There the teams will compete to see who best presents the evidence, closing and opening statements and witnesses.

The scrimmage is the first of several competitions for the team, who are preparing for the Great Plains Regional at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. in February.

“At the college level (the competition is) particularly competitive,” Hamburger said.

“It pretty much has to be your only activity to be particularly successful.”

Staff writer Brian Anthony can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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