The Queens College Mock Trial, formed in 2013, enables students to learn how to argue cases, examine and cross-examine witnesses and be comfortable in the courtroom setting.
Although the trial is simulated, the knowledge gained from these exercises is invaluable.
“We are given a fictitious case by the American Mock Trial Association and the goal is to work with the case material given to construct an argument for the case and compete against other colleges and universities with that argument,” member Victoria Tan said.
In their last case – Lee Park vs. Duran, a case of intentional shooting versus parental negligence – Tan won the Outstanding Attorney Award. In addition, the team’s witnesses were nominated for the Outstanding Witness Award and the entire team of attorneys received nominations from the judges.
The team operates under the supervision of the Pre-Law Association at QC, which provides advisement that includes helping students determine if a career in law is right for them, teaching how to successfully manage the application process to law schools and advising how to prepare for issues they will face in law school.
In addition to participating in faux trials, the team also competed in moot court. Moot court is a simulated oral argument, similar to one made before an appellate court.
The oral argument lasts nearly 15 minutes, during which the attorney presents an argument and answers questions posed by the panel of judges. It is not a trial and there are no witnesses or evidence.
Participating in events such as moot court and mock trials allows participants to capture the atmosphere of working as a lawyer.
Despite the fake trials, the members of the team feel it is a portrayal of real courtroom situations as opposed popular television dramas like “Law and Order.”
“Honestly those shows aren’t realistic in how you portray yourself to the judge and the jury. In those shows you will see the characters approaching the jury in a cocky manner, keeping their hands in their pockets or shouting at the opposition. In trial, if you did things like that, they would score you down,” Jamie Andrade, a member of the team, said.
Moreover, Andrade noted how rare it is for cases to actually go to trial, which is another exaggeration on courtroom television dramas.
“It is also a little inaccurate since realistically only about five percent of cases go to trial, while in these shows it seems like all the cases they take go to trial. So all in all it is definitely more dramatized than real life,” Andrade said.
Lionel Yu, the captain of the team, felt their experiences were both educational and entertaining.
“Since this is college, it is a more relaxed setting. It is work and fun with your friends, but it definitely gives you experiences that can help anyone going into the legal field,” Yu said. “Mock trial helps you with your work ethic, how to read a case and your public speaking skills.”