UMass mock trial advances to championship rounds

By Alyssa Creamer

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Courtesy UMass Mock Trial Team

The University of Massachusetts mock trial team recently defeated a majority of college mock trial’s top-tier schools, taking second place and several top attorney and witness awards in the American Mock Trial Association’s Northeast Regional Competition, held two weekends ago in Worcester, Mass.

Placing second of 26 teams behind Columbia, UMass’ successful undefeated finish (8-0) has led them to qualify for the opening round of the National Championships, set to be held in White Plains, N.Y. this coming weekend. Competing in the championship rounds will be a first for UMass mock trial.

“As a whole, this has just been a monumental and incomparable season for our club,” said Joseph Mendes, senior and captain of the team in an email. “It’s also been a moving, emotional experience for myself and co-captain Holly Galvin.”

“We’ve gone from a team who didn’t win anything from 2007-2009, to a remarkable, confident and talented group of students who just seem to keep winning,” he continued.

Mendes won an individual award for scoring 20 ranks in each of the two rounds he participated within as an attorney – the highest amount of points a competitor can score at a competition.

Mendes also said it was a great honor to win his individual award, and that he would not have had the opportunity to do as well had it not been for the help from his teammates.

Danny Bernard, a freshman member of the team, scored 19 ranks for his performance as a witness during the competition.

“I was very happy to win the award at this tournament, and it couldn’t have been done without the help of my other teammates,” said Bernard in a phone interview. “We really put together an incredible case. To go from 0-8 three years ago at regionals, to 8-0 this year, is a testament to the hard work we put in.”

The team’s case involved a parent suing a toy company called “Happyland Toy Company” because a two-year-old child ate a set of beads called “the Princess Beads.” The father was suing the company because the beads contained a dangerous chemical and the parents felt they were not given fair warning about its effects.

Bernard portrayed a pharmacologist during the trial. Prior to the trial, the team prepares both sides of the case, with most team members having roles on both sides.

Bernard said he is looking forward to facing some of the top teams in the nation and advancing onto nationals. Mendes also echoed this excitement.

“It’s kind of surreal thinking about where the team has come from over the past three years,” said Mendes. “We’re just really excited to go and have the chance to compete in the championship rounds. We’ve had a lot of success this year both individually and team-wise, and we really feel we have earned our spot.”

The Northeast Regional Competition was also the first time UMass mock trial has gone through a competition undefeated, and this year is also the first season in which the team has won four team member awards.

If UMass places within the top six teams during the championship rounds, the team would then advance into the national tournament, which will be held in Des Moines, Iowa from April 15-17.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at [email protected]