Mock Trial

For More Information:

James M. Schnoebelen, Ph.D. Mock Trial Coordinator, Morgan Hall Room 266, 1700 SW College Ave, Topeka, KS 66621 (785) 670-1426

Email Dr. Schnoebelen

Mock Trial

What is Mock Trial? 

Mock Trial is an intercollegiate activity sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Each year AMTA publishes a case that presents an equal challenge for both sides of a case (Plaintiff/Prosecution and Defense). Students then study and prepare case presentations (including attorney and witness roles) for trial.

The case is criminal one year and civil the next year. Case topics have included: dog mauling, injuries caused by the release of a mental patient, the kidnapping of a teenage girl, a libel case involving a cable news network and a famous politician, and a negligence/strict liability case involving a toy manufacturer and the death of a child.

Teams of 6-10 students prepare both sides of the case and go to regional and national competitions. In each round, 3 members of the team will act as attorneys and 3 will act as witnesses. Who plays each role will vary from round to round depending on the side of the case the team presents and who the other side has chosen as witnesses.

Washburn Success! 

Washburn has fielded a highly competitive and successful mock trial team for over 20 years, almost since the inception of the activity in 1985. As a result…

  • Washburn consistently places in the top 10 or even the top 5, winning several regional tournaments throughout each season.
  • Washburn competes against all sizes and divisions of schools, and consistently beats teams from some of the largest and most prestigious universities in the United States.
  • Washburn students regularly earn not just team, but individual awards for outstanding performances as attorneys and witnesses.
  • Washburn consistently sends at least one team to the national level tournaments and has previously placed in the top ten at the National tournament attended.
  • At past national tournaments, Washburn students have been recognized as All American Attorneys and Witnesses in the last ten years.
  • Most graduates with Washburn mock trial experience go on to attend law schools and graduate schools.

Mock Trial Teaches Skills!

You do not need to have prior experience with Mock Trial to participate, nor do you need to know about the legal system. The faculty Mock Trial Coordinator and staff of law student coaches will teach you all you need to know in order to thrive in school while also competing and winning in Mock Trial competitions. These skills include:

Skills for life:

  • Develop Analytical Reasoning
  • Oral Communication
  • Organizational Skills
  • Time Management
  • Research
  • Working with a Team
  • Thinking on Your Feet
  • Confidence Building

Legal Skills:

  • Courtroom Procedure
  • Evidence Basics
  • Opening Statement Techniques
  • Directing Witnesses
  • Cross Examining Witnesses
  • Constructing Questions
  • Legal Theme and Theory Development
  • Closing Arguments
  • Arguing Objections
  • Testifying as a Witness
  • Understanding Expert Testimony

What Mock Trial Would Require of You

Students make a commitment for a year because the Mock Trial season runs throughout the fall and spring (typically October through April).

The team meets and works on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. These meetings are required, and you may be asked to meet individually with coaches throughout the year to hone skills and performances. Dedication and commitment are cornerstone characteristics of successful team members.

The team travels to 3-5 tournaments per semester throughout the country but primarily in the Midwest. The University pays for all required costs associated with travel and competing, including transportation, lodging, food, and tournament fees. Students are required to provide their own professional/courtroom attire.

Scholarships

The Mock Trial team provides scholarships to most, if not all, competing members of the team. No prior experience is required to be eligible for scholarships, though preference will be given (normally in terms of larger scholarships) to those individuals who have prior competitive speaking experience (i.e. Mock Trial, Debate, Forensics, Model UN, etc.). If you are interested in scholarship assistance, you should contact the Mock Trial Coordinator as early as possible (by the end of the spring semester before the fall you wish to begin competing) to set up a meeting and possible audition.