Mock Trial Team Competes at SLU

UIS Mock Trial Club takes home individual awards, places 12th and 13th

Tamarra Newbern, News Reporter

This year is the Mock Trial Club’s fourth year at UIS, and it has been their most successful since first starting in the fall of 2012.

On Nov. 14-15, the Mock Trial Club participated in an invitational competition, the Eighth Annual Billiken Barrister Mock Trial Tournament, held at St. Louis University School of Law. They competed with 21 teams from universities across the country, and the two UIS teams in attendance took 12th and 13th place.

Two students on the team did exceptionally well at the invitational. Vanessa Pratt, a legal studies major, won “Best Witness,” and Austin Mehmet, double majoring in legal studies and computer science, won “Best Attorney.”

Pratt joined the Mock Trial Club and the legal studies program during her freshman year, but she enjoyed the idea of mock trial before college as well. “I have been interested in mock trial since high school,” Pratt stated.

She went on to say that her father contributed to her interest as well. “My father is one of the coaches for the mock trial team at another school, so I would always go and watch his team compete.”

Pratt expressed that before the trials is always a “nerve-wracking experience,” yet it never stops her from doing her best because she enjoys competing.

Though she worked hard on her character, she was still very surprised that she won an award. Pratt plans on attending law school to become a criminal litigator and feels that the Mock Trial team is helping her gain skills to prepare her for the future.

Mehmet also joined the Mock Trial Club in his freshman year of college. He became interested in the club when he participated in a required mock trial during a basic legal studies course.

Before a competition Mehmet is usually very positive. He stated, “I am very confident in my teammates,” adding, “I am only as good as they are.”

Mehmet was keeping track of the ballots during the completion, which made his award less of a surprise, but he still believed that anything could happen.

Mehmet’s plans for the future “can go in two directions,” he said.  Since he is a double major, he will either go directly to law school or work in the information technology (IT) field.

The club has more events coming up in January and February and is looking forward to them.

Susan Borland, co-coach of the Mock Trial Club, said, “It is great preparation for a litigator or trial attorney. Even for student to go to law schools, it help[s] students develop public speaking and develop dramatic skills, theatrical skills, and teamwork.”

If you are interested in joining the Mock Trial Club, or for further information, visit the Mock Trial Club website at uis.edu/prelawcenter/uismocktrialclub.