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Home > Mock Trial Teams Qualify for National Competition

Mock Trial Teams Qualify for National Competition

February 10th, 2012

By Sarah Pride.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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Samuel Johnson (L) and Logan Spena from PHC's mock trial "A" team

After only a short preparation time to transition from January’s moot court successes to a very different style of forensics, two of Patrick Henry College’s mock trial teams recently earned bids to the opening round of the “championship series,” or national tournaments, of the American Mock Trial Association.

At last weekend’s Chapel Hill Regional in North Carolina, PHC’s “A” team (Logan Spena, Elizabeth Ertle, Samuel Johnson, Kim Kozak, James Compton, Charlotte Blacklock, and Joshua Chamberlain) won third place in the tournament, ranking just below competitors from Duke University and Vanderbilt University, and just ahead of a team from Washington and Lee University. The “B” team (Mackenzi Siebert, Paul Devamithran, Nicole Frazer, Ardee Coolidge, Laura Fennig, Jimmy Hildebrand, and Sidney Roe) also managed an eighth-place finish and a final qualifying bid. The next-highest round of tournaments in March, the Opening Rounds, will determine the teams that advance to the top-tier national competition in April.

Dr. Frank Guliuzza, PHC’s mock trial coach, calls mock trial “the cornerstone of what we do in pre-law,” along with moot court. While individuals participate as a two-person team in moot court, each team member still argues independently in front of the simulated Supreme Court. Mock trial, by contrast, creates an entire faux court room. Team members present complementary positions as attorneys and witnesses, working together to sharpen both their legal and dramatic acumen.

According to senior Logan Spena, PHC’s mock trial "A" team captain, the best part of mock trial is the team aspect. He says he enjoys that “I have to rely on people for so many different things.” Recently, Spena and his partner Samuel Johnson placed third in the national ACMA moot court championships. With plans to proceed to law school next fall, Spena said he considers both types of forensic competition to be “good simulation.”

“I just like to argue with people,” he jokes.

Dr. Guliuzza, who also serves alongside Dr. Michael Farris as one of PHC’s moot court coaches, agrees about the value of forensics competition. In his position at Weber State before, and now at PHC, he says that he has never seen a student who competed in moot court or mock trial that did not get accepted to law school when he or she applied.

Looking ahead, although each college is only allowed to send two teams to the mock trial opening rounds, PHC will still attend one more regional tournament this year to give other of the College’s competitors a chance to stretch their forensics muscles. And if more teams qualify, so much the better.

“It’s a good place to be in,” says Dr. Guliuzza.

Three students also won individual awards. Senior Ardee Coolidge was an All-Regional witness, and Samuel Johnson and Paul Devamithran were All-Regional attorneys.