For release: April 17, 2012
News and Media Relations contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-5616 or Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu
University Honors College and mock trial contact: Dr. John Vile, 615-898-2596 or John.Vile@mtsu.edu
MTSU mock trial ranks among top 6 teams at national tournament
MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s mock trial team placed third in its division and in the top six nationally at the American Mock Trial Association’s 28th annual National Championship Tournament April 13-15 in Minneapolis, Minn.
“Each year, the national championship tournament becomes more and more competitive,” University Honors College dean and mock trial coach Dr. John Vile said, adding that of the approximately 600 teams that begin the season, only 48 qualify for the national tournament.
“If mock trial were basketball, placing third (and losing only to the national champion) would be a bit like making the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “It really was an extraordinary kind of thing.”
What Vile found “extraordinary” was the fact that MTSU did not qualify for the nationals out of its region, and, out of 12 teams considered on the bubble to receive at-large berths, MTSU ranked No. 11. “This is our Cinderella year,” he said.
MTSU placed third behind overall national champion Duke University and runner-up University of California at Irvine in the Faith L. O’Reilly Division. Both compiled 7-1 records. Other teams in the top 10 in the division included Northwestern University, Rhodes College, George Washington, Macalester College, Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Champion Rutgers University compiled a 7-1 record to capture The Hon. Edward Toussaint Jr. Division. Harvard (6-2) and the University of Maryland (5-2-1) were second and third, respectively. Other top-10 teams in this division were Miami University of Ohio, New York University, UCLA, the University of Virginia, Furman University, Howard University and Washington University in St. Louis.
Divisions were chosen by random draws, Vile said.
“We gave George Washington its only two losses,” Vile said of 6-2 GW. MTSU dropped both defense ballots to Duke in the second round. MTSU won both prosecution rounds against Michigan State and both defense ballots against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Based on the win/loss record of our opponents, we met one of the strongest fields of any team in the entire tournament,” said Vile, who is assisted by local attorneys (and mock trial alumni) Brandi Snow and Shiva Bozarth.
Co-captains Rachel Harmon, senior international-relations major from Atlanta, and Samantha Farish, a junior political science and psychology major from Cookeville, Tenn., led MTSU to a 6-2 record.
Constance Grieves, a senior political-science major from Nashville, joined Harmon and Farish in playing attorney roles.
Team members playing witness roles included Brooke Borcherding, a sophomore political-science major from Watertown, Tenn.; Margaret Noah, a junior philosophy major from Nashville; Thomas Palombo, a sophomore political-science major from Pittsburgh, Pa.; senior Kaitlin Beck, an economics and French major from Murfreesboro; and J.D. Thompson, a freshman political-science major from Alamo, Tenn.
Most team members were part of a specials honors section of a political science class in courtroom procedures, Vile said.
This year’s case was a hypothetical case in which a college student was being prosecuted for DUI and for murder as a result of an accident in which another college student was killed.
The tournament consisted of four rounds of competition, each with two scoring judges. Teams played two rounds on the prosecution side and two teams on the defense.
MTSU teams received financial support for the Department of Political Science, Student Activity Fees and from the Honors College.
Mock trial team with trophy
MTSU mock trial team members are shown with the third-place trophy they earned in the Faith L. O’Reilly Division at the 28th annual National Championship Tournament April 13-15 in Minneapolis, Minn. MTSU placed among the top six teams overall. Front row, from left, are Kaitlin Beck (holding trophy), Brooke Borcherding and Constance Grieves. Back row, from left, are Margaret Noah, J.D. Thompson, Thomas Palombo and co-captain Samantha “Sam” Farish. Not pictured is co-captain Rachel Harmon, who had to leave to travel to a study abroad conference in Prague, Czech Republic, this week.
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