UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS MOCK TRIAL TEAM
The Department of Political Science sponsors the University of Memphis Mock Trial
Team. The group, which is composed of current or recently graduated students from
various majors throughout the University, competes annually in events conducted by
the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). These tournaments are held on a regional
and national level during the spring semester of each academic year and feature teams
from across the United States.
Mock Trial: What Is It?
The University Team consists of six to ten students each year, with up to eight members
traveling to AMTA events as representatives of the University of Memphis. In competition,
team members take the roles of attorneys and witnesses in the trial of either a civil
or criminal case. Fact scenarios for each competition are provided by AMTA and change
each year. During competition, teams must be prepared to present and argue the case
from either plaintiff (or prosecutor) and defendant’s perspective.
Teams that play in each round are judged by local panels of legal experts on issues
such as style, knowledge of courtroom procedure, familiarity with evidentiary principles
and overall presentation. The performance of both team attorneys and witnesses are
scored by judges, who may include members of the local judiciary, bar or related fields.
Teams that score the most points in a competitive round are declared winners and those
with the greatest number of wins may qualify for National Tournaments.
Mock Trial: Why Should I Participate?
The purpose of the Mock Trial experience at the University of Memphis is to provide
students, especially those interested in legal careers, with the opportunity to gain
knowledge about the U.S. legal system, American jurisprudence and trial court procedures
by hands on experience. This is particularly important for students who are considering
litigation as a concentration within a legal career, as students will learn directly
how to prepare a case for trial and will participate in the presentation of it in
a competitive environment.
Students from any department/college within the University are welcome to participate
in Mock Trial. Those who do so may also earn up to six hours upper division credit
(three hours per semester) for this activity. However, departmental/college requirements
concerning the use of these credits toward a degree program may vary; therefore students
are urged to consult with the appropriate academic advisor before becoming involved
with the program.
Mock Trial: How Do I Get Involved?
To join Mock Trial, students must enroll in POLS 4709. Classes for the fall semester
form the pool of students from which the University Mock Trial Team is chosen. Class
size is limited, so students who are interested in pursuing Mock Trial should contact
the Academic Coordinator promptly, since admission is limited to those who receive
permits from the instructor.
Students from any department/college may take this course, with permission of the
instructor. However, it is important for prospective class members to note that Mock
Trial is a very LABOR INTENSIVE course. Participants will be expected to not only
attend the weekly scheduled class sessions but be prepared to put in a number of hours
outside class in preparation of classroom activities. If the schedule of a prospective
class member will not allow for the additional hours needed for preparation, investigate
other options. To succeed in Mock Trial, you must be prepared!
The fall semester POLS 4709 class will explore elements of trial preparation, rules
of evidence, courtroom procedure and presentation techniques. Class members will be
given the opportunity to display their skills in these areas through competitive simulations
of the current or previous AMTA provided case scenarios. During the semester, the
University Mock Trial Team and alternates are selected. Students may earn three hours
upper division credit for this course.
POLS 4709 is also offered in the spring semester of each academic year. This course
is open only to University Mock Trial Team members and alternates. Time during this
semester is devoted entirely to preparation for regional and/or national competitions
and participation in them. Team members are expected to meet during regularly scheduled
class time, along with nights and weekends, as needed, to meet this goal. Students
may earn three upper division credit hours for this course.
Mock Trial: What Are the Costs?
Beyond course fees and books, members of the University Mock Trial team will incur
travel costs when going to various regional or national tournaments. While the Department
of Political Science underwrites the cost of AMTA registration fees, students should
be prepared to pick up expenses when traveling to and from these locations.
In recent years, the Mock Trial Team has worked with organizations within the University,
such as Student Government Association, to defray some of the team members’ expenses
for travel. However, funding from such sources is not guaranteed.
In addition, the Mock Trial team has successfully sought financial support from friends,
alumni, faculty, private businesses and professional groups to cover these costs in
recent years. While the Mock Trial team has been able to meet some of the expenses
through fundraising activities, prospective Mock Trial team members should plan to
pick up their expenses while traveling with the Team unless otherwise informed.
Beyond the potential financial commitment, prospective Mock Trial participants must
consider the cost in terms of time. Mock Trial is an invaluable experience, but it
is hard work!! Mock Trial is more than a twice weekly classroom session; it requires
a personal schedule that permits intense devotion to detailed preparation of your
case in much the same way as attorneys prepare for trial. When you join Mock Trial,
be prepared to give your all!!
Mock Trial: What Is Our Track Record?
The Mock Trial program at the University of Memphis is relatively new, beginning with
the sponsorship by the Department of Political Science in 1999-2000. Since then, the
University’s teams have participated in regional and national AMTA tournaments. In
2000 the Team finished second in the Regional Tournament and competed in the National
In 2005, the University team placed sixth among twenty two teams at the Mid-South
Regional Tournament in Birmingham. As a result, the team was invited to the National
Tournament in Richmond, Kentucky in March. Despite several close competitions, the
team did not advance further.
Mock Trial: Where Do I Get More Information?
For more general information, see Vile, John, Pleasing the Court: Mock Trial Handbook
or the American Mock Trial Association web site at www.collegemocktrial.org.