First year Ben Brody is in the process of starting Trinity’s first Mock Trial club with the sponsorship of John Hermann, associate professor of political science, and Claudia Stokes, chair of the English department.
Through weekly meetings, Brody hopes to develop a competitive Mock Trial team, create a forum for Trinity students to discuss controversial issues, and provide practical experience for students interested in law.
In Mock Trial, two teams argue their cases before a judge in a courtroom setting. Each team is comprised of two co-attorneys and one witness. Brody’s passion for the activity stems from two years of experience in competition, including a State Championship title.
“We want Trinity students to see the court process, understand issues better and expand their thinking,” Brody said. “It should have a “˜People vs. O.J. Simpson’ feel.”
An average of 13 students have come to each of the three meetings held thus far. Instead of attending tournaments this year, club members plan to compete against each other on campus over controversial topics like marijuana legalization and abortion law. Students outside of the club may serve as the jury.
Right now, meetings focus on the basics of Mock Trial, such as the roles of attorneys, juries and witnesses.
Future meetings will include practice rounds, guest lectures and in-depth discussion of current legal issues.
“The goal is to get newcomers to really understand Mock Trial so they can train next year’s newcomers,” Brody said.
Several Trinity students have unsuccessfully tried to launch Mock Trial clubs in the past.
“Becoming a legitimate organization is a very daunting process,” Hermann said. “Mock Trial is a great way of exploring divisive issues. Often people can’t discuss sensitive issue with reason and research. But Ben needs to explore how Mock Trial is related to debate. Does this add value to campus?”
Brody acknowledged this challenge, but still sees Mock Trial as a more practical activity than debate.
“It’s a setting where you aren’t just talking about issues but settling on a resolution. It’s a place to refine the skills needed for making this happen. We can give back to Trinity by getting students involved in the legal process,” Brody said.
Kristina Reinis, a first-year founding member of the club, is motivated in part by her goal of attending law school.
“For students who want to be in pre-law, debate helps somewhat, but this helps you get used to the court system and actual litigation. Mock Trial helps you figure out what you want to do in life by applying knowledge in a career-focused way,” Reinis said.
The Mock Trial club is spearheaded by first years. Brody went around at NSO trying to gain support for the fledgling club. He collected over 40 signatures.
“The students were so persuasive and passionate about it that I couldn’t say no,” Stokes said.
Despite concerns, Hermann also sees potential in the club.
“Ben is really an incredible young man. He seems to be resourceful. I think that if students have great ideas, that will contribute to the University. I’m going to find a way to help him,” Hermann said.
Even though the process of becoming an official club could take nearly two months, Brody is actively recruiting members. Interested students should reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).