Cal Poly Pomona’s 2018-2019 Mock Trial Team won four Outstanding Achievement awards, more than any other team, in the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Opening Round Championship Series (ORCs) in Georgia.
Emma Jue-Sans, a junior political science major, and Manshaan Singh Dhir, a sophomore environmental biology major, won Outstanding Attorney Awards. Kaitlyn Baltazar and Victoria Venegas-Gomez, both freshmen political science students, won Outstanding Witness Awards in the mid-March event. Rounding out the team were senior Stephanie Barrow and junior Chase Gleason.
The AMTA mock trial competition begins in the fall when teams receive the case packet, which includes case law, rules of evidence, exhibits, a list of witnesses and case details.
This year’s simulated case, Midlands Television Studios v. Danny Kosack, involved defendant Danny Kosack who was scheduled to appear on the highly-rated show “Midlands After Dark with Alex Grace” (produced by plaintiff, Midlands Television Studios, Inc.) with Elias, Kosack’s chimpanzee. But a rehearsal before the show went terribly wrong when Elias attacked the people in the room. The plaintiff’s writer, Chris Villafana, was killed during the attack, and the plaintiff and defendant have sued each other for negligence.
Each university team has three students acting as plaintiff attorneys, three defense attorneys and students who serve as the witnesses.
At the California Regional Tournament, 32 teams from 20 universities competed in four rounds of argument. Cal Poly Pomona’s A Team finished in ninth place to qualify for an “open bid” to the ORCs Series in Georgia.
In the early rounds, the Bronco team bested the University of Central Florida and the University of West Florida. In the final round, they lost two very close arguments to Emory University.
For Stephanie Barrow, president of the mock trial team, the most interesting part of ORCs was competing against new teams.
“Since all of our invitational and regional meets are in California, we tend to compete against the same schools. Because we went to ORCs in Georgia, we were competing against schools that we have never seen before [including] schools from Georgia, Florida and Texas,” she said. “This made the competition more difficult, because we did not know what to expect in terms of case theory or performance.”
Barrow, a senior, plans to pursue a career in the law or the government.
“The Mock Trial Team helped me understand the law and court room procedures….,” she said. “It also helped me hone my public speaking skills, learn how to work with a team in stressful environments, opened up opportunities for law internships and jobs and learn the importance of making connections.”
Jose Contreras (’16, political science) served as the A team’s main coach. He competed in the Mock Trial Program for three years as a Bronco and met some of his best friends.
“This program made such a profound impact on my life that I decided to coach and impart some of my knowledge on the next generation…just like my coaches did for me,” said Contreras. “I have coached high school mock trial, and this was my second and last year coaching collegiate mock trial. This coming fall I’ll be starting my first year of law school at Harvard Law.”