Two Mock Trial teams from Howard Payne University recently competed at a regional tournament at The University of Texas at Dallas, bringing home awards for top witness and top attorney. This was HPU’s second full year of competition and third appearance at regionals.

The first team was comprised of Guy D. Newman Honors Academy majors Amy Baskin, senior from Brownwood also majoring in psychology; Jordan Hahn, freshman from Burnet also majoring in social science global studies; Katherine Hailey, senior from Bangs also majoring in social science jurisprudence; Tyler Olin, sophomore from Howe also majoring in social science jurisprudence; Skyler Schoolfield, senior from Aledo also majoring in social science jurisprudence and Spanish; Caleb Throckmorton, senior from Early also majoring in management; and Jacob Vincent, junior from Hartley also majoring in history.

The second team included Guy D. Newman Honors Academy majors Jessica Catlett, sophomore from Alleyton also majoring in social work; Toni Gibbs, sophomore from Waco also majoring in social science jurisprudence; Kaitlyn Harrison, junior from Watauga also majoring in athletic training; Lainee Hasty, junior from Runaway Bay also majoring in psychology; Andie McCoy, sophomore from Whitehouse also majoring in social studies composite; Isaac Sommers, senior from Boerne also majoring in English and social science jurisprudence; and Karla Zachary, sophomore from Elgin also majoring in social science jurisprudence.

Gibbs won an award as a top witness, scoring 17 out of 20 possible points, and Sommers won an award as a top attorney, scoring 19 out of 20 points.

Mock Trial is a simulation of trial court cases. Students are given a hypothetical case to argue, and they must prepare a case strategy, learn case law, and memorize affidavits and testimony to effectively ask and answer questions. In order to be successful, the team spends hours rehearsing their arguments, preparing questions and answers for witnesses, and utilizing the rules of evidence. Participation in Mock Trial helps prepare students for careers in a variety of fields, including law, criminal justice, forensic science and even theatre.

At the regional tournament, each team competes in four rounds, representing first the plaintiff and then the defense. Teams include students acting as attorneys and witnesses, and each round is a full trial against a competing team. Rounds take approximately three hours and are judged by real-life judges and lawyers. Awards are given to the top witnesses, attorneys and teams.

“This was our best showing yet, with teams winning multiple rounds,” said Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government and Mock Trial sponsor. “I am so proud of our students this year. They have taken a brand new program and turned it into a highly competitive team, all within a few short years. Their success this year is indicative of their hard work and dedication to the team.”