Story by Breanna Sill, Staff writer
Two attorneys are cross and direct examining two witnesses about a crime in a room full of jury people and in front of a judge. The location, though, isn’t a typical courtroom setting – it’s a classroom on the fifth floor of Faculty Hall.
This is a meeting of Murray State’s Mock Trial organization and the attorneys, witnesses, jury and judge are all students performing the duties of real professionals in preparation for an upcoming competition.
Katy King, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, and president of the Mock Trial club, said the organization will be traveling to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to compete at Middle Tennessee State University in November against hundreds of other schools.
This included schools as large as University of Georgia.
“We hope to gain experience about real life cases [at these competitions],” Glenda Wright, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, and vice president of the Mock Trial club said. “We are competing against another team and I know what my witnesses are going to say, but I never know what to expect from the other team.”
The Mock Trial organization is not just a club- the group meets together every Monday for one hour as an actual class. Students are able to take the class four times, for one credit hour each time.
King said, although she is a political science major, the club welcomes students of all majors; not just students who one day hope to become lawyers.
“Anybody can be involved in this club,” she said. “We have students here learning more about things like public speaking. It helps with everything from talking to people and making friends. We are all really close as a team.”
The organization is overseen by Paul Foote, assistant professor of political science, and Jamie Jameson, attorney and current candidate for Marshall County Circuit Court Judge.
“We really honestly couldn’t have done this without Jamie Jameson,” King said. “He has just been so helpful and has built this team up so much.”
This week, the club began having bi-weekly practices to prepare for the upcoming competition.
During the competition, the Mock Trial team is assigned roles as either witnesses or attorneys and they prepare both sides of a case- prosecution and defense. When they arrive at the competition the team will find out which side of the case they are on, and have a specific amount of time to prepare their arguments.
“The prosecution will call their witnesses and they will give them a direct examination by asking them open ended questions like ‘Where were you?’ and ‘What happened next?’” King said. “Then the defense will give a cross examination, which will try and discredit the prosecution’s witness.”
The hope is that after this trip in November the team will qualify to move on to a higher level round of competitions.
“Around five or 10 years ago, we actually had a Mock Trial team go to nationals, which is a huge deal, like that is so hard because within each round you can win awards,” King said. “Going to Nationals means you compete against everyone in the entire nation and it’s so hard.”
Right now the team has approximately 10 members, but they are always looking for more people to become interested and join the team.
King said for her, joining the team gave her more than a good resume boost, it gave her a strong sense of self-confidence.
“The thing that I take away from this team the most is self-confidence,” she said. “When I was a freshman I had zero self-confidence and now I feel like I can be a leader.”
For more information on the Mock Trial club, contact Katy King at firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul Foote at email@example.com.