From the March 2022 Desktop News | The University of Alabama’s Mock Trial team is quickly making history, earning a program record of three bids to the next level of competition at this year’s American Mock Trial Association Regional Tournaments.
The group, which consists of four competition teams (A, B, C, D), competed against dozens of nationally-ranked programs during a series of regional elimination tournaments in February. Every team in the nation competes in these regional tournaments, with only the top 25% of teams in those tournaments advancing to the next round of the competition, the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) Three of the teams (A, B, and D), earned one of the coveted earned bids in their competitions. UA’s team is one of only 13 nationwide that earned more than two bids.
“I think this year, we have a great chance,” said Jason Park, a junior majoring in marketing who served as both team captain and an attorney for A Team. “This is our first year of getting three teams bids to the round championship series. Our A Team actually got the second-highest competitive record in all of regionals, and we had an incredibly high strength-of-schedule. We competed against very high level teams, and we went undefeated.”
In addition to a record number of bids, each of Alabama’s teams had members take home individual awards, which are awarded to the highest performing attorneys and witnesses of each round by the judges. The B Team was awarded an honorable mention for the Spirit of AMTA Award, which is voted on by competing teams and given to the team that best displays the characteristics valued by the AMTA.
“The Spirit of AMTA Award is usually the nicest team, the team that exemplifies honesty, civility, and fair play,” said Dr. Allen Linken, associate professor of political science and advisor to the team. “We’ve won that award several times. What I find most compelling about this is that we ultimately earned a bid, and the teams that we beat thought that we exemplified civility and honesty and fair play.”
Throughout each fall and spring semester, each team spends hours of time practicing a variety of scenarios that may be brought before them during their competitions. Both attorneys and witnesses memorize hundreds of pages of evidence and legal writing in order to craft an argument that works with their strengths.
“It’s very different from high school mock trial, especially the witness statements,” said Ana Albrecht, a sophomore majoring in chemistry who served as an A Team witness. “There’s a lot more information. I played an expert witness in high school once, but in college, I’ve memorized about ten times as much content for my role. It’s really difficult, but it’s really fun to learn all the information.”
Albrecht was awarded a top witness award, while English sophomore and D Team captain Cameron Kohlmann, English, history, and political science sophomore and B Team member Kinley Smith, and Park won top attorney awards, with Park earning a rare perfect score from the judges. These individual awards, according to Smith, signify both individual growth and the growth of the program.
“Earning that award was so surreal,” Smith said. “Last year, I was a witness on D Team with no mock trial experience, and this year I’m an attorney, and just won a regional award while doing something I love with some of my best friends.”
For Kohlmann, leading his team to win a bid at regionals has been a confidence-boosting experience. Although the D Team won’t be able to compete at ORCS (each university is only allowed to send two teams, no matter how many bids they receive), he’s proud of all his team achieved and excited to see what next season holds.
“I did mock trial in high school, so I expected to do really, really well in college,” Kohlmann said. “I didn’t do great in my first year. It was really hard, but I didn’t let it discourage me. If my team had given up, and not had the confidence that we had this year, I don’t think we would have succeeded. I’m really proud of their work–they’ve definitely exceeded expectations this year.”