Weekly Club Spotlight: Villanova University Mock Trial


Courtesy of @VUmock

VU Mock Trial practicing earlier this year.

Chelsea Le, Staff Writer

Clad in business suits and ready for court, Villanova’s Mock Trial team continues to represent the University well against schools across the country.

As members of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), students participate in intercollegiate competitions where schools argue as prosecution or defense in stimulated court cases. Each year, teams receive a case with a set of affidavits and exhibits that tell a story about an alleged crime. Members are assigned as attorneys or witnesses, and the club meets twice a week to prepare for a season typically lasting from September to March.

This year, Mock Trial performed exceptionally well considering the unprecedented circumstances. Despite everything being on Zoom, including the competitions, the team still had an outstanding season. After success at Regionals in mid-February and fine-tuning its case strategy, Mock Trial advanced to the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) as one of the top five teams from the region, ranking in the top 192 out of hundreds of other college teams. The A Team placed second at one of the invitationals, and members across both teams received individual awards.

Patrick Riss, a sophomore Philosophy major, spends most of his time participating in Mock Trial. Since joining, Riss had enjoyed the camaraderie among members, despite all events being online.

“A large part of the Mock Trial experience is travelling and the time the members spend together—unfortunately a lot of that wasn’t possible this year,” Riss said. “However, where we could, we made it work. Recently, we just competed in the intramural basketball league with our team Ball and Order, thankfully a lot of the team was able to participate in that.”

Because competing teams can only have 12 roles filled up by 10 people, only so many members can participate. To compensate for this, Mock Trial rotates roles among students so that more have an opportunity to compete. Riss, who usually was an attorney, was able to diversify his experience through these reassignments.

“Over the course of this season, I got the chance to play both an attorney and a witness, which was a lot of fun,” Riss said. “For our final tournament, I was able to play an Australian DJ – that was probably the highlight of my year.”

Mock Trial had one of its first successful elections in Riss’ recent memory. The club only has three main positions: president, vice president and chief of internal affairs.

“I am proud to say that it was a success,” Riss said “As a club all about discourse, we managed to have a civil colloquy.”

This year, Makena Kerns was elected to the office of the presidency, Patrick Scariano to the vice-presidency and Maggie Cavanaugh as chief of internal affairs. The executive board hopes to send a team to nationals in the coming years and recruit more members.

Hannah Phillips, a freshman Political Science and Humanities major, was one of the new recruits for this season. As an attorney on both plaintiff and defense, Phillips wrote directs and crosses for different witnesses and delivered closing arguments on both sides.

“My favorite part about Mock Trial is definitely the friendships that you make with the people on your team and the adrenaline rush that comes from objection battles and competition,” Phillips said. “From the first practice, I could tell that the season would be really fun and I’d make a ton of new friends.”

Anyone interested in joining can email [email protected] or [email protected]. Members are typically accepted during the fall when the season starts, but the club would love to meet and get to know anyone.

“Join Mock Trial if you want to learn more about our legal system, practice your public speaking, reading, writing, acting or analytical skills and have the chance to meet a lot of unique people and be part of an established community,” Riss said.