The Sonoma State University Mock Trial Team won the school’s first major mock trial award, “Outstanding Witness,” at a Feb. 22 competition.
Mock trial is a club where students analyze made up cases, create lines of questioning, develop case theory and expand their argumentative analysis.
“What we do is we prepare for the actual trial. The competition is actually trying the case we’re working on,” said Team Captain Rebecca DeMent, “We have witnesses who memorize their statements from the case and then they have to respond to direct and cross examinations. The lawyers work on questions for the witnesses of our team and the other team.”
The team had been preparing for this competition since August, but were thrown a curveball when they arrived at the opening ceremony.
The host explained a team from the East Bay had two members drop from the competition so they could not compete. Instead, they would need to make a bye team, a team with students outside of the school, consisting of volunteers. One of these volunteers happened to be second year Hutchins major Erin Charlton.
“It was surprising because going into the weekend I hadn’t actually prepared to be a witness.” Charlton said. “I told them I’ve only ever been an attorney but I’ll be whatever you need. They said they needed me to be an expert witness, a primatologist.”
This turn of events seemed to be a huge stroke of luck, however, as Charlton managed to clinch the “Outstanding Witness” award, beating out students from Stanford, Berkeley, Davis and a litany of other universities in the CSU and UC systems.
Earning this honor was huge for Sonoma State as it was the first time the school has come back from competition with an award.
“We were all really happy,” said Mock Trial President Jennifer Bluestein. “Lots of these schools have had established teams for years and we’re relatively newer to this so it was pretty big for us to come in and win an award like that.”
Students on the Mock Trial team encourage seawolves who are interested in the club to check it out, as it has a plethora of benefits.
Academically, the club gives opportunities for you to grow and improve upon certain life skills you’ll need.
DeMent said there are opportunities for actors to sink their teeth into the many characters available, as well many chances for critical thinking or argumentative analysis for those interested in law.
“It’s a great way to build on your leadership skills, critical thinking and your public speaking skills. It can only help you. Overwhelmingly it’s a wholesome experience for you academically.”
Of course, it’s not all just hard work. The club gives people the chance to grow socially as well.
“I think both years we’ve found a strong sense of community...We become such a family at the end,” said Bluestein, “We get so close when we practice on the weekends for months and months. If you have the time to commit you should also do it for the social aspect.”
If interested in more information on Mock Trial and how to get involved, you can e-mail them at email@example.com or check out their Instagram page at @mocktrialssu.