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Mock Trial team has conviction for regional competition

By Heather Zajdel

Section: News

February 11, 2005

Brandeis Universitys Mock Trial Association will vie for a national slot at an intense two-day competition to take place this weekend at Connecticuts Manchester Community College (MCC). The 2005 American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Northeastern Regional Mock Trial Tournament will determine which two of the twenty-three contending teams will continue on to compete for the honor of representing their schools in Des Moines, IA this April.

Brandeis will be represented by four teams consisting of seven to eight members each, according to one of the teams captains, Jonathan Krisch 07. This is an increase from last years three teams, as the Finance Board gave the group more money for competition.

These groups will contend with teams from thirteen other schools including last years co-champions Boston University and Dartmouth. Brown, Wesleyan and Yale will also be participating.

Participants assume the roles of attorneys, expert witnesses and other key characters in the case assigned by AMTA. Each team is given an opportunity to perform twice in both the capacity of prosecution and defense.

According to the Manchester Community College website, each team will compete in four mock trials that will be judged by attorneys from the area. Scores will be based on knowledge of the case, their character portrayal, and/or legal arguments.

In order to prepare for the competition, Krisch explained, the club critically reviews and learns material provided by AMTA regarding the assigned case, conducting additional research when necessary. After the data are thoroughly analyzed, the team conducts mock mock trials in an effort to simulate the real event. Members of the Mock Trial Club also gained experience at the Ninth Annual Yale Invitational this past December.

This years case, Tony Kissner v. Polk Hospital concerns a plaintiff whose future as a professional golfer is ruined due to injuries sustained in an encounter with a patient just released from the aforementioned psychiatric facility. The plaintiffs attorney contends that Polk Hospital was negligent, discharging a patient who still constituted a danger to society. Mr. Kissner sues for damages.

Competitors are challenged to bring the case to life, always alert to twists, details, and imaginative interpretations by other teams. Krisch explains that there are a variety of characters that can be played different ways. Certain characters go for one side while others are up for grabs.

For example, there is a physician who might or might not harbor a grudge against the hospital, and an author who engineered his commitment to Polk Hospital in order to write a best-selling expos.

In its fourth year, the Brandeis Mock Trial Association has earned a respectable 12th place finish in last years Regional Competition, as well as taking home the Outstanding Witness Award, won by Samuel Dewey 06, Outstanding Attorney Award won by Michael Stern 05, and an award for good sportsmanship.

Tensions are high, but club member Melissa Mollin 07 is keeping the competition in perspective. I want to do well, I hope our team does well but also I want to have a good time.

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