First-Year Mock Trial Competitors Headed for Nationals
March 12th, 2009
By Josiah Helms
From L to R, some of PHC's mock trial participants: Jon Carden, Jon Roose, Carmen Pettus, Cate Pilgrim, Krystal Brunner, Paul Morin
The Patrick Henry College mock trial team is leaving today for Des Moines, Iowa, where they will duke it out against Harvard-level teams in the opening round of Nationals. They have placed better than 70% of teams across the country, a surprising feat for an institution with no history in mock trial until this semester. “It would be the equivalent of qualifying for the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ in NCAA basketball,” Coach (Dr.) Frank Guliuzza explains.
“It’s very different than moot court, where we’re the strongest program in the country. This is brand new, like having a football team and trying to create a baseball team,” he says. Many of their competitors, Guliuzza adds, have been doing this for eight years now. PHC, on the other hand, “didn’t have a lot of preparation, didn’t have resources, and on top of that we were busy with moot court. Yet, shockingly—here we are today.”
An impressive accomplishment so far—but PHC is up against some big guns this weekend. They could even find themselves face-to-face with Harvard, University of Syracuse, or Georgetown. Guliuzza is tense, but he’s seen what his team is made of. “The obvious coach-speak is to ‘lower expectations,’ but I really do think these guys could do something special this year.”
In mock trial, participants test both their dramatic and persuasive abilities in different courtroom roles. Often wild and wacky, this form of “legal” debate is more colorful than PHC’s traditional moot court.