Eastern Michigan University students excel in mock trial competition

Team of Eagles finishes second in regional tournament at EMU; another honored as the event’s top team in terms of character and sportsmanship

EMU Mock trial teams competed at a regional tournament last month.
The EMU mock trial team capped a fine season with a second-place finish and by garnering individual honors at a regional competition it hosted this winter.

YPSILANTI – A team from Eastern Michigan University placed second overall in a mock trial competition this winter that matched 22 squads from around the Midwest, while Eastern’s other team was honored for its sportsmanship and character.

The regional tournament, held last month at Eastern Michigan, included teams from the following schools: Adrian College, Ball State University, Case Western Reserve, Central Michigan University, Hillsdale College; Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio Northern, SUNY Buffalo, the University of Michigan, the University of Rochester, the University of Toledo and Valparaiso University.

The runner-up Eastern team topped squads from the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Hillsdale, along with the rest of the field.

Eastern’s other competing team won the Spirit of American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Award, which goes to "the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play.”  

Charles Graham
Charles Graham was ranked outstanding in both the defense and plaintiff categories, the only double attorney award at the regional.

EMU alumni support mock trial team

A mock trial is an act or imitation trial. It is similar to a moot court, but mock trials simulate lower-court trials, while moot court simulates appellate court hearings. Attorneys preparing for a real trial might use a mock trial consisting of volunteers as role players to test theories or experiment with each other.

More than forty attorneys from around Michigan, many of whom are Eastern alumni, came to judge one or more rounds, each of which lasted between two and a half to three hours.

Individual awards for Eastern at the regional competition included Jillian Jones, outstanding witness; and Charles Graham, outstanding attorney. Graham was ranked outstanding in both the defense and plaintiff categories, the only double attorney award at the regional.

The strong regional placing earned Eastern the right to compete March 16-17 in a prestigious Opening Round Championship Series Tournament in Hamilton, Ohio, where teams that placed high enough went on to the national tournament, to be held April 4-7 in Philadelphia.

Bright future for young team

The young EMU team did not advance, but earned two individual honors. Jones was again named an outstanding witness, and Graham repeated in being named among the outstanding attorneys at the tournament.

Barry Pyle, a professor of political science at Eastern and coach of the mock trial team, said it was hard to see a fine season end.

“But the realization that we lose only two of 26 of our students to graduation indicates that next year will be our year,” he said. “In fact, half the students who went this past weekend (to Ohio) asked if we were practicing this week.”

Jillian Jones
Jillian Jones won outstanding witness.

David Klein, department head of political science at Eastern, said, “The success of our teams and the fact that EMU was asked to host a regional tournament are a testament to our superb coach and to the support we receive from loyal, generous team alumni."

A skill building competitive activity

The American Mock Trial Association was founded in 1985 by Dean Richard Calkins of Drake Law School. AMTA serves as the governing body for intercollegiate mock trial competition.

Through engaging in trial simulations in competition with teams from other institutions, students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as a knowledge of legal practices and procedures. AMTA sponsors regional and national-level competitions, as well as providing interesting and complex case materials for academic use.

Presently, AMTA hosts 25 regional tournaments, eight opening round championship tournaments and the national championship tournament each season. In total, AMTA provides a forum for more than 5,300 undergraduate students each academic year to engage in intercollegiate mock trial competitions across the country.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

March 20, 2019

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom