Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier managing editor
Last weekend, the Berry Mock Trial Association (BMTA) participated in their first-ever tournament, as this is their first year as a program. The team traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) regional tournament and walked away with new experiences and growth as a program.
BMTA provides an opportunity for students considering law school or just interested in the justice system to act out a court case and practice the procedural system of court. According to junior Annie Deitz, president of BMTA, students pretend to be the attorneys or witnesses on the prosecution or the defense side of a trial.
Each year, AMTA creates a case for all college mock trial clubs to use and compete with. Deitz said that this season, the organization selected a criminal case.
During the regional tournament, which is the beginning of the national tournament circuit for AMTA, 10 Berry students competed, none of whom have previous mock trial experience. But their lack of experience did not deter their excitement, as the team has been working toward this tournament all year, according to Deitz.
“That being considered, we were as prepared as we could have been,” Deitz said.
Deitz said that each team competes in four rounds with two judges per round, each of which determines who they believe has won the case.
“We won a single judge from one of our cases, so we scored one out of eight, which is one more than I thought we were going to get out of eight,” Deitz said.
Despite the outcome, the team still took several lessons away from the weekend.
“It was a really good learning experience,” Deitz said. “Everyone was able to learn a lot more about mock trial.”
Going into the tournament, the team lacked knowledge on the procedures, language and logistics of a competition. However, after this weekend, Deitz said they gained insight into the workings of a tournament, and she hopes the team will be more confident next year after this experience.
“Now that we are more familiar with how the organization does this and what it all means, it is definitely going to be a lot easier next year to prepare,” Deitz said.
In the fall of 2020, BMTA will travel to Atlanta for an open invitational tournament in hopes of increasing their experience before regionals. Deitz also said that they hope to increase their numbers and financial support as well in order to attend more competitions.
“Because this was our first year, because we are student run and because we don’t have a ton of money yet, where we could travel, how many people we could bring and how many times we could travel were limited,” Deitz said.
Additionally, Deitz said the team has reached out to local Rome attorneys in hopes of gaining mentorship from them and even coaching for their next season.
If a student is interested into going to law school or a career in the justice system, Deitz said that mock trial is one of the best ways to gain experience while in college. At the end of this semester, BMTA will be hosting an open Berry mock trial for anyone wishing to try it out.