Students win at mock trial tournament
Serving as witnesses, plaintiffs and prosecutors, Georgia College undergraduate students brought law and order to the courtroom during this year’s regional American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) competition held in Atlanta.
Georgia College Mock Trial Team competed as one of 24 universities and won the competition’s Spirit of AMTA Award — one of nine awards given during the event. The award acknowledges “the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play.”
“This event was our team’s second competition since establishing last year,” said Jennifer Hammack, faculty pre-law adviser and associate professor in the Department of Government and Sociology. “Going up against schools such as Duke, Emory and Wake Forest gave our students a competitive platform to develop their trial and advocacy skills.”
The Georgia College team prepares for competitions during three-hour-long scrimmages with each other ever Sunday throughout fall and spring semesters.
“Through our mock trial practices and this recent competition, I’ve learned how to think on the fly and apply my classroom lessons in legal theory,” said Anna Zwicky, senior political science major. “I would even practice in my sleep.”
Mock trial is an opportunity for students of any major to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills.
Alex Allison, senior rhetoric major, joined the group to hone communication techniques.
“During the competition, I had to sell my point of view as a witness and really sound convincing,” Allison said. “The experience was challenging but fun.”
Established in 1985 by Dean Richard Calkins of Drake Law School, AMTA hosts 24 regional tournaments, eight opening round championship tournaments and a national championship tournament each season. Nearly 600 teams from more than 350 colleges compete throughout the academic year.
AMTA competitions present students with interesting and complex court cases, which students have to argue from plaintiff, prosecutor and defense attorney perspectives.
“The neat part about this competition was that it mimicked what an actual courtroom situation looks and feels like with spectators,” Hammack said. “Our students did a great job plotting their cases and making strong arguments other schools didn’t see coming.”
The team competes annually. The next competition takes place during October for the Owl Classic Invitational Mock Trial Tournament in Kennesaw.
T.J. Cornay, senior economic major, encourages colleagues to participate in mock trial for a few key reasons.
“You meet a lot of influential people,” said Cornay. “It prepares any major for the working world, and you can earn course credit too. Plus, mock trial is a fun way to try to outwit other schools.”