RUSH MOCK TRIAL!
HOW DO I RUSH YALE MOCK TRIAL?
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WHAT IS MOCK TRIAL?
Mock Trial is a competitive activity that combines the arts of public speaking, debating, and acting all into one. In Mock Trial, teams simulate a real trial, which requires them to interpret legal cases, think analytically, speak persuasively, and portray witnesses compellingly. At the beginning of each year, AMTA, the American Mock Trial Association, releases a nationwide case that is used for the rest of the season. Seasons usually begin in September and end in April. Competitions consist of four rounds of trial; each round consists of two to three judges that score each team’s performance. Teams consist of at least six people – three attorneys and three witnesses – that are able to argue both the prosecution and the defense theories of a case. To prepare for tournaments, team members develop case theories, practice speeches, prepare direct and cross-examinations, and develop witness characters.
WHAT IS MOCK TRIAL LIKE AT YALE?
Mock Trial at Yale adds two extra elements to speaking, debating, and acting: winning and having a darn good time. Since 2016, we have been ranked 1st in the nation. There are about 30 members in the YMTA, and we’re one of the closest groups of friends on campus. Each year, the association splits up into 3 to 4 teams that travel and compete throughout the nation. We have attended invitationals at Columbia, Georgetown, UPenn, Penn State, Harvard, Cornell, UCLA, UVA, NYU, Tufts, Vanderbilt, Brandeis, and the Coast Guard Academy.
IS YALE MOCK TRIAL A BIG TIME COMMITMENT?
It is if you want it to be. We require about 8 hours per week from our members during a regular week, but how much time you want to commit beyond that is up to you. Yale’s trial teams are separated into 3 or 4 different teams, based in part on the amount of time members of that team are willing to commit per week. Team A, for example, will require the most amount of commitment, while Team D will require the least amount of hours per week from its members, who might be heavily involved in other academic or extracurricular activities. Most of our members have other commitments, ranging from Greek Life to a cappella to theater to debate. The most competitive teams at Yale will begin meeting in September and will end their season in April, having attended 6-7 tournaments throughout the year (tournaments last one full weekend).
AM I AT A DISADVANTAGE IN THE TRYOUT PROCESS IF I HAVE NO PRIOR MOCK EXPERIENCE?
Absolutely not. No prior experience with Mock Trial is necessary. We are looking for people who enjoy public speaking, acting, arguing, traveling, or simply those who are looking for a good time. Some of our members had never even heard of Mock Trial prior to coming to Yale, while other members have had four years of high school Mock Trial experience. YMTA is home to a wide variety of students, from Chemistry to Political Science to Film Studies majors.
I HAVE PRIOR HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL EXPERIENCE AND AM THINKING ABOUT RUSHING. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE MOCK?
Most of the format of high school Mock Trial remains the same in college, although there are some differences. The AMTA case packet is lengthier than the high school packet, with additional exhibits, longer affidavits, and more witnesses to choose from. The Rules of Evidence are also more complex and the arguments are more sophisticated in a college trial. Opening and closing arguments are also longer, at 5 and 9 minutes. The witness selection process is also different. While in high school the case packet provides a permanent set of witnesses per side, in college one witness can be called by either the Prosecution or the Defense. This allows for more interesting and dynamic trials. Even those with experience in high school find that they always have more ways to learn about the law by participating in college Mock Trial.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM BEING ATTACKED BY A SHARK?
If for any reason you find that you are being attacked by a shark, there are several steps you should take to increase your chance of survival. Firstly, don’t take your eyes off the shark. Get into a defensive position. If you must fight back against the shark, aim for its eyes, nose, or gills. If you don’t have a weapon, use an inanimate object, like a rock or a camera, to ward it off. Make sure not to thrash. Thrashing only attracts sharks and disperses your blood. Swim breaststroke to the nearest area of land and get medical attention.
Mock Trial is a performance
Mock Trial is like acting, but, instead of having a script to work from, you begin only with a set of facts and a goal. The rest is up to you. As a witness, you decide your character. Will you be a Midwestern accountant, a student finishing nursing school, or an old man who adores his wife’s cooking? Your character has something to say, but you choose how to say it. Are you angry or forgiving? Are you the comic relief or the tragic end? We push our members to understand their characters, because this sort of acting is competitive. That means the opposing team will challenge your character and ask you questions that you don’t expect. You’ll be scored on your credibility. And like improv, there are no scripts. As an actor, Mock Trial is one of the most unique and challenging ways to utilize your talents and expand your skillset.
If you’re an actor, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is a debate
From October Invitationals to April Nationals, we compete against schools across the nation in simulated trials. At the beginning of the school year, we’re given a case packet that we’ll use throughout the year as the basis for these trials. Each trial, attorneys score the two competing teams. In order to win, we must debate. In practice, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of every case theory that we can think of. It’s up to us to work as a team to prepare the most intelligent, compelling arguments. In trial, we have to persuade the jury of our argument while disproving the other team’s. And then we have to flip sides and argue the opposing side of the case. We pride ourselves on always developing the most innovative and persuasive theories. And we have to be good on our feet. When we’re hit with something unexpected – an unanticipated objection or cross-examination question – we have to adapt to the situation and respond confidently and convincingly. We work with every member to improve their debate and impromptu skills, and put that into practice in the courtroom.
If you’re a debater, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is one big speech
In Mock Trial, it’s not just about what you say; it’s how you say it that allows you to win. We work with every member to improve their public speaking skills, while still retaining their own style. Whether majoring in English or Chemistry, whether portraying a witness or an attorney, the ability to speak confidently, persuasively, naturally, passionately, and charismatically is something we all strive to develop. Then, we put our skills into practice during tournaments. We improve our members’ ability to not only give speeches on stage, but their ability to speak in class and in conversations as well. At the end of the day, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it that makes a difference. In our case, it helps us win trials.
If you’re a public speaker, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is one big puzzle
At the beginning of the school year, every team receives the same case material; it’s up to us to put the pieces together in the best way possible. That is, we figure out how to dismantle our opponents' theories, and make ours foolproof. Working with the same case through tournaments helps our members learn by trial and error and improves their analytical and critical thinking skills. We have to anticipate what our opponents will do and in turn come up with arguments they won’t anticipate. We pride ourselves on being able to outsmart competitors, and we win trials because of that.
If you’re a problem solver, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is rhetorical
Once we determine how to argue a case, we begin the process of conveying those ideas as persuasively as possible. This requires a great deal of writing; we push ourselves to figure out the best way to craft our arguments, and how to weave them most compellingly into our cases. Writing for Mock Trial is far from one-dimensional. Preparing for a single trial requires writing moving speeches, humorous witness scripts, and dynamic cross-examinations.
If you’re a writer, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is... a trial
Just like you see on TV, we object. Witnesses cry. We’ve argued in front of real judges and are scored by practicing attorneys. The case materials we receive includes the legal documents that a typical case would have: the indictment or complaint, stipulations, case law, rules of evidence and affidavits. We study the rules of evidence and case law closely, so that in trial, we can use them to break up opponents’ cases. We choose witnesses in order to put together a convincing case, and we prepare cross-examinations to undermine opposing witnesses. At the end of the trial, we stand before the jury and plead with them to find in our favor. If you love Suits, Law and Order, Boston Legal, The Good Wife, or any of those types of shows, you’ll love this.
If you’re interested in law, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is a family
The best part of Mock Trial isn’t what we do; it’s who we’re doing it with. Ask any one of our members why they do Mock Trial and they’ll tell you about the people they’ve met. You’ll hear that joining was one of the best decisions they’ve made in college. By competing and traveling together, our 35-person association becomes a family – one that doesn’t just spend time preparing cases together. Whether freshman or senior, we practice together, party together, study together, travel to ski resorts and Walt Disney World together. We make stupid Mock Trial jokes and we laugh way too hard way too early in the morning. The friends you make doing Mock Trial become some of your closest.
If you’re looking for a family, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.
Mock Trial is a competition
Mock Trial is a competitive activity, and at the end of a tournament, the team with the most number of wins is awarded 1st place. We’re at a bit of a disadvantage compared to other programs; many teams have five digit budgets, a professional coaching staff, and even Mock Trial scholarships to recruit high school students (yes, that’s a thing). We have none of the above.
And yet, we still beat those teams.
In 2014, for the first time in over a decade, we qualified two teams to Nationals – something that only 3 other schools in the nation were able to do. In 2015, we went undefeated and finished in 1st place in our division at the National Championship, and second overall in the country. And in 2016, we took the National Championship for the first time in the Association’s history.
We plan on continuing this legacy. And we want you to help us.
If you want to be a part of a championship team, you should rush Yale Mock Trial.