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The Mock Trials

Cal Poly Mock Trial team
The Cal Poly A Team takes a break
from mock trial competition.

— Jonathan Lampkin, PHIL ‘16

When the judge walked in, the room quieted and everyone stood. At one table, Cal Poly’s Mock Trial team sat representing the prosecution. The University of Southern California’s three-member attorney team sat at a similarly positioned table on the other end of the room. Immediately, round three of the annual UCLAssic Mock Trial Tournament commenced. The subtly tense energy in the room spoke to the fact that it would be a closely matched round.

Every year the American Mock Trial Association releases a case packet to undergraduates around the nation. Universities field teams that compete during rounds that last about three hours, during which one college represents the prosecution and the other represents the defense.

Students prepare for these tournaments by learning about case law, statutes, affidavits and the rules of evidence, which are largely identical to the Federal Rules of Evidence. They do this by enrolling in POLS 295, Foundations of Mock Trial, and POLS 395, Advanced Mock Trial. Both courses are taught by Professor Jennifer Alton, a partner at San Luis Obispo law firm Alton and Allen. During fall quarter, students work together to hone their skills. Last fall, students attended UC Berkeley’s prestigious mock trial tournament. Cal Poly freshman Rod Rahimi was recognized at UC Berkeley for his performance as an “Outstanding Witness.” As the season continued, students prepared for the national competition. Cal Poly’s Mock Trial Team A received an honorable mention at the regional competition with a record of 4-3-1. Cal Poly team member Deeksha Kohli received an All Region Attorney Award. Rahimi and Chloe Loomer received All Region Witness Awards. In addition, Cal Poly Team B received an honorable mention at the regional competition with a record of 4-4. Team member Erin Chazer received an All Region Attorney Award. Cal Poly’s Team A was given an open bid to the national opening round championship series. Mock trial is a quintessential Learn by Doing experience that allows Cal Poly students to practice critical thinking, public speaking and teamwork. Whether or not a student intends to practice law, the Cal Poly Mock Trial program affords students the opportunity to learn skills critical to all professions. 

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