Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Jury Has Reached a Verdict

What an incredible weekend! My first collegiate Mock Trial tournament: it was fantastic. We drove out to Worcester, Massachusetts to compete at Clark University with 26 teams, 8 of which would advance to the next level of competition. As was pointed out in the opening ceremony, 70% of us would be eliminated.

Our first round was plaintiff; I was an attorney. Each round is scored by 2 "judges;" winning a ballot means getting a better score than the opposing team, according to one judge's score-keeping. On the first round, we split ballots, meaning our record was 1-1. It wasn't a great start; at that rate, we would end the tournament 4-4, with no chance of earning a bid (earning the right to advance) to the next level of competition. It is notable that, in judges' comments, my captain was considered "spunky" and a "BS artist." In a positive light, I think. Our sister team, Tufts A, went 2-0.

Getting back to the Holiday Inn Express was trickier than the case; it had rained all day, and the roads were frozen over. The hill leading out of the parking lot had vehicles literally sliding down with no tire traction, being guided along by team members who pushed against the cars. It was like curling...but more serious. We eventually made it out, and returned home close to midnight, exhausted. We had to be out the door by 7:45 AM the next day.

Hotel? Motel? Holiday Inn!

Saturday was a double header of defense trials, where I played a witness, the defendant, if fact. It went extremely well for everyone involved, and some judges really loved my character. I haven't bothered to look at the rankings, though; everyone on the team was excellent; I expect we all took turns ranking highly. The first trial was 2 ballots in our favor, and the second time around, we won 1 ballot and tied the other (a rare occurrence, unless the judge adjusts the scores to be exactly even). Our record was 4-1-1 by the end of the day.

We were feeling good about things and were out of court by 6. We headed to an Asian dinner, which was graciously paid for (surprise!) by team members' parents who had come to watch our tournament. We cannot thank them enough.

That night, we hung out, ate chocolate covered potato chips (thank you, Nina!) and actually rewrote small segments of our case in accordance with comments we had received. It put some of us on edge, making changes so late in the game, but at least we were getting more sleep before the last trial.

Sunday morning was plaintiff; I was back to my attorney role, which included the closing argument. Before the trial began, we received some shocking news via text message: in captain's meeting (where logistics are worked out before trial), the defense (our opponent) opted not to call the obvious defendant (the character I play on defense). As we had planned, in case of this rare occurrence, we claimed that witness (of 9 available witnesses, 3 are selected for each side through a draft pick). We were shocked - it was time to run a case we had only ever half-considered; we were going to call the defendant to testify against her own side!

Lindsey and I rushed to rework our opening and closing statements with the new developments. I quickly memorized a cross examination for a new witness (I would have otherwise crossed the defendant). Before long, it was time to start. We were excited, and I know I was scared. We were taking a gamble, hoping it wouldn't ruin everything we had worked for.

The case ran beautifully. Our planning paid off, and, with the defendant on our side, the opposition barely stood a chance. We not only presented a more persuasive case, but we performed the best we ever had. We entered every exhibit we intended to, made every point we wanted to, and wove it all together - even incorporating all of our last-minute changes seamlessly. Comments included praising Lindsey for "bending" witnesses "to her will," applauding my closing as "flawless" and the time I "shined," and voicing nothing but support for our remaining team members. No comments were given for Jessi, our stand-in plaintiff, who didn't testify in trial but sat sobbing at the council table throughout the proceedings. We appreciate her help.

The Tufts students competing at regionals Feb. 25-27. Not pictured: The team which competed at an earlier competition, going 5:3; we are also very happy for their successes.

Of course, the results aren't announced until the closing ceremony. First, my team tied Brandeis for Honorable Mention (second place) of the Spirit of AMTA award for fair play and courtesy. Sure enough, we faced that team, and ranked them as highly as possible for that award. They're pretty awesome.

In terms of tournament rankings, 8 teams were awarded trophies and bids to the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS). Columbia and Amherst took 1st and 2nd with 8-0 records. My team, Tufts B, clinched 3rd with a 6-1-1, and Tufts A came in 4th with a 6-2. Harvard followed in 5th. The evidence speaks for itself.

Our team wins 3rd place! (Left to right, Alex '13, Nina '14, Jeff '11, Lindsey '13, Jen '11, Brian '14, Alex '13, Ali '14, Jessi '13)

Captains Jen and Alex bringing back our trophy

The team admiring the shiny award

Tufts A photographing their trophy

A quick shout-out to Alex Gottfried, sophomore and closing attorney for our defense team, winning an Outstanding Attorney Award with 19 ranked points (17 required). Although I didn't interact with him on the stand in my capacity as a witness, it was clear from the trial that he had an incredible command of the courtroom, and truly deserved the award. He was the only Tufts student to win an award at the competition, attributable, we think, to the extent to which each one of us performed superbly, alternating which of us would rank most highly each round.

Alex Gottfried, congratulations!

It was a ton of fun, and we're psyched for ORCS in White Plains, New York, two weeks from Friday. Jumbos on three...

[Read the official TMT article...written by me for our website]


  1. WOW! Congrats! That sounds so exciting! GO TUFTS!!

  2. I think that is somewhere near Poughkeepsie :-)
    Go JUMBOs!!


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