By Drake Long, For The Miami Student
Despite managing four separate teams, the coaches and members of Miami’s Mock Trial have had consistent success — success that goes largely unnoticed by those unfamiliar with the program.
The Mock Trial competition between colleges involves heavy research into a case, given to all teams at the beginning of the season. This case can be civil or criminal. Each team alternates between acting the role of the plaintiff/prosecution or defense, with their performance reviewed by a panel of judges. Members take on the roles of not only lawyers, but also witnesses.
Two of Miami’s four teams are ranked in the top 25 nationally — MU is one of just two colleges with that distinction. The teams are divided into A, led by Seniors Monika Mudd and Matthew Meeks, B, led by Sophomores Henry Leaman and Katie O’Keeffe, and C, led by Freshman Jay Kranzdorf and Sophomore Sydney Scribner, teams. Coaches include Dan Herron, Lawrence Hilton, Neal Schuett, Laura Powell and Alex Block.
For the fall season, each team went to at least three competitions before the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS). The ORCS serves as the qualifier for the national competition, in which 48 schools from across the country will participate. The weekend of Nov. 14-16, the B and C teams competed in a tournament at Illinois State University, with the B team winning second place. Before that, the A team placed fourth at a tournament hosted by Columbia University in New York, losing to Duke University by just one point. Miami University will host its own regional tournament Feb. 22.
The program has been performing well, but a tweak in the rules by the American Mock Trial Association presents a new challenge.
“It is a historic year for AMTA,” A-team captain Monika Mudd said. “Where they will have the same case up until ORCS, and then for Nationals there is an entirely new case.”
With the last ORCS ending just three weeks before the National competition in April, the Mock Trial team will have a short amount of time to craft a strategy for the new case.
“That’ll be interesting. This is the first year they’re doing that,” Mudd said.
However, the Mock Trial members are confident in their ability.
When asked about how many teams a school can send to the national competition, Mudd replied that only two were allowed.
“Our [C and D] teams are so good they will beat out several other schools’ A teams,” Mudd said.
Each school can only send two, and Miami plans to send its A and B teams if they qualify, according to the other A team captain Matthew Meeks.
“Last year, both Miami’s A and B teams qualified for Nationals,” Meeks said.
He was quick to praise the C and D teams, referred to as developmental teams.
“I will go to Farmer School of Business, it will be 8 p.m. on a Thursday or a Tuesday, and I’ll see some of the freshmen still there practicing their hearts out,” Meeks said. “It’s some of the hardest work that I’ve seen in my time at Mock Trial.