Mock trial team to compete in national tournament

Courtesy of Ashley Lynam of the Mock Trial Team

The mock trial team placed second overall in the Colonial Regional Tournament at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., last weekend. After competing with three teams and 24 members, Villanova received a direct bid to the national tournament in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Michael Shiposh, Elena McDermott and John Marty received “best attorney” awards. Leila Swartzrauber, Marie Hobson and Ashley Lynam also received awards for “best witness.”

The team’s bid to the national tournament marks an all-time high point for the University’s mock trial team. With 25 teams and 10 schools in the tournament, Villanova conquered perennial champions, including Georgetown University, the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania, to receive this honor.

The team was founded in 2003 by Brian Collins and Paul Vitale. Collins, who is currently in his second year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania, is a team coach, along with attorneys Arthur “Buzz” Shuman and Richard Michaelson. The team is led by senior Shiposh, who has been a member since its establishment in 2003.

The team has also earned honors at local and area invitational competitions throughout the year. Villanova mock trial competed at University of Pennsylvania, Yale University and Cornell University before the regional tournament at Lafayette College. In each of these competitions, the team placed in the top 10 and received numerous individual achievement awards for its members.

College mock trial is nationally sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association. It is an intercollegiate circuit competition in which universities prepare fictional criminal and civil cases and are scored by attorneys, judges and law students.

The trial procedure mirrors that of an actual courtroom, with attorneys making opening and closing statements, directing and cross-examining witnesses. Teams present evidence and call witnesses for each case but are limited to case materials provided by the American Mock Trial Association. Mock trial attorneys use the Federal Rules of Evidence to argue objections during the trial and are scored on their command of these rules, as well as for their overall performance and understanding of courtroom etiquette and procedures. Witnesses are scored for their ability to stay in character, the structure of their statements, understanding of the facts, persuasiveness and presentation. At every tournament, four cases are presented, each lasting about three hours.

The Villanova mock trial team expects to launch the University’s reputation for academic competition to a new height. Two honors are awarded to winning teams at regional competitions.

“Silver” teams compete in a tournament in Hamline, Minn. “Gold” teams compete for the national championship in St. Petersburg. Villanova received the highest honor possible as a “gold” competition team. The team will compete from April 13-15 at Stetson University for the national title.