This weekend, while my peers sleep in late and bask in the sun, I will be representing a client.
Ms. Bowman has been accused of helping her friend rob an amusement park. Of course, as I will argue to the jury during my closing arguments, she is innocent of these charges. My co-counsel and I will defend her by calling witnesses to the stand, and cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses to show the weaknesses in their testimony. Then, it’s up for the jury to decide.
This is not some kind of Mike Ross situation. If you don’t know that name WATCH SUITS. No, it’s something much cooler: the world of Pomona College Mock Trial.
At the beginning of each school year, the American Mock Trial Association sends out a case to all of the college mock trial programs, including Pomona. Their packet is no joke: about 150 pages of stipulations, case laws, affidavits, and exhibits. All AMTA cases take place in the imaginary state of Midlands, which appears to be vaguely near Ohio but also has a marina? We don’t question it too much. Instead, we learn all the facts of the case. We make up characters for the witnesses in the case. The bartender can be a boisterous Irishman! The defendant should be a proper lady from Louisiana! We develop case theories, different ways of arguing the facts as they stand. We write our examinations and statements. And then, we practice them. Practice them, practice them, and practice them, all throughout the year.
All of this crazy preparation becomes worth it when we get to the competitions. A normal competition consists of four rounds. Every team competes as prosecution twice and defense twice. We’re paired against other programs at the tournaments, schools from all over California and sometimes even from other states. The people who judge these trials are alumni, coaches, lawyers, and real-life judges! The judges rate every attorney and witness performance on a scale of 1 to 10, and at the end of the trial, one team comes out on top.
Pomona College Mock Trial hasn’t been around that long, but we’re rising to the top as a program. California is an incredibly competitive region for mock trial. The UCs have amazing coaches, tons of funding, and a huge pool of students to draw from. PCMT is student-run, strapped for cash, and always crossing our fingers that people will show up when auditions roll around. Despite all this, we get stronger every year. This semester, our A Team won our first tournament and placed third at another!
I’m the captain of our B Team, mostly composed of first-years. I am so amazed at how much they have improved and how hard they are always willing to work. I love to watch our new mockers hit their stride. Every trial brings something unexpected, and they are learning how to stay calm and deal with anything that might happen. Also, they’re hilarious. And adorable. I LOVE B TEAM.
A lot of people don’t understand how obsessed we all are with this activity. I don’t blame them, completely. It is a LOT of work. But something about all the arguing, performing, and well-dressed tomfoolery just delights me. I’m addicted to the confidence I get from delivering a kickass closing, and the excitement of watching my talented teammates. Everyone on PCMT is whip-smart, a little weird, and loves a challenge. I’m so grateful to have this family in my life.
Together, A and B Team from PCMT will compete at our Regional tournament this weekend, and we have to take one of the top seven places to advance to the next level. PCMT’s dream is to compete in the national tournament for the first time ever. Wish us luck!