Kent State Team Competes at American Mock Trial Association Competition

Kent State University’s Mock Trial Team recently competed in the Regional Mock Trial Association Competition held at the Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouse in Columbus.
The two-day competition was Feb. 16 and 17.

Each year, the American Mock Trial Association constructs a criminal or civil case that is used by all of the teams from the participating colleges and universities for competition. Team members play attorney or witness roles, and after considerable preparation, compete against other in mock trial regional competitions.

“This program allowed me the opportunity to work with incredibly intelligent and hard-working individuals,” said Joseph Van’t Hooft, a senior marketing major. “This year’s team was one of the best teams I have ever been a part of. A great deal of hard work and dedication by each individual were required in order for us to have the amazing experience we had. Mock trial is an amazing program."

This year’s case focused on civil torts, which relate to personal injury and negligence. In the case scenario, the owner of a major television network sued the owner of a chimpanzee named Elias. The chimp was scheduled to perform several tricks before a live audience, but after being startled while preparing for the show, Elias killed a member of the television studio staff.  The owner of the television network sued Elias’ owner, who then filed a countersuit against the network.

Kent State’s team is made up of students from the Kent Campus, including sophomores, juniors and seniors, who are majoring in a variety of programs such as marketing, paralegal studies, criminology and justice.

Peter Charles Kratcoski, Ph.D., emeritus professor and adjunct professor of sociology and justice studies, serves as academic coach for the team, while his son, Peter Christopher Kratcoski, an attorney and Kent State adjunct professor in justice studies and political science, serves as the team’s legal coach.

“Mock Trial was one of the best learning experiences of my education at Kent,” said Katelyn Campisi, sophomore paralegal studies major. “It introduces you to the litigating aspect of the law field. It’s challenging and keeps you on your toes. I was co-captain of the team and learned how important it was to be a leader and how important it is to work as a team.”
Team members said the courtroom setting required them to use logic and develop their speaking and interpersonal relationship skills.

“Although my experience at mock trial was intimidating, I am so glad I did it,” said Lyndsey Gallwitz, senior paralegal studies major. “Not only did I learn valuable things that will take me further in my career, I made great friends that I will cherish forever.”

The mock trial judges are typically practicing attorneys or judges, who volunteer their time to act as judges for the competition.  When the trials are completed, the judges discuss the performances of the teams and answer questions posed by members of the teams.

The Kent State team did not advance to the next level of competition, however, several team members received recognition from the judges for being the top attorneys or witnesses in their trials.

“This was my first experience in mock trial. It was an exhausting weekend that left me with some great memories. I always wanted to be an attorney,” said Emma Samuels, senior paralegal studies major, “But this was my first time actually seeing what it was all about and it was mind-provoking. It gave me the opportunity to think on my feet.  I hope more Kent State students will join next year and have the opportunity for this awesome experience.”

The American Mock Trial Association was founded in 1985. Currently, the association hosts 25 regional tournaments, as well as a national tournament at which the winning teams of the regional tournaments compete. More 5,000 students from more than 350 universities and colleges participate in tournaments.
Kent State has participated in American Mock Trial Association tournaments for about 20 years.

“Mock Trial was a great experience that I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Gabrielle Reznick-Duffer, senior paralegal studies major. “I’ve learned so many valuable things and made great friends.  I’m so grateful for having had the opportunity.”

Kent State’s mock trial team is open to students in all majors. Interested students must enroll in the College of Arts & Sciences Special Topics course, Practicum in Trial Procedures during Fall Semester.

The course is designed to teach the students the step-by-step process followed for preparing a case for trial.  Students completed research on case law and court decisions applied to higher courts, wrote opening statements, direct and  cross examinations of witnesses and closing arguments.

The course offered during Spring Semester, places emphasis on the application of the materials learned during the fall semester. A requirement for the students enrolled in the course is to participate in the American Mock Trial Association tournament.

During the fall semester, the coaches prepare the students for competition through classroom instruction and training sessions. In the spring semester, they assist students with the preparation of their parts and often arrange practice competitions with teams from nearby universities.

Winning teams at the regional level advance to national competitions. Courses are available through the College of Arts and Sciences https://www.kent.edu/cas.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Peter Kratcoski, (Academic Coach), Charles N. Sanchez, Hannah O. Boylen, Katelyn G. Campisi, Gabrielle L. Reznick-Duffer, Emma M. Samuel s, Lyndsey N. Gallwitz, Kristina Kunarac, Joseph M. van’t Hooft, Peter C. Kratcoski, (Legal Coach).

POSTED: Monday, April 8, 2019 - 11:25am
UPDATED: Monday, April 8, 2019 - 11:25am