Hamline News

Case Closed: Mock Trial Team Wins and Heads to Championships

Students in a zoom.

When budget cuts due to the pandemic caused the Hamline University Mock Trial program to be suspended, students came up with a different plan.

Team captains Jacob Ostermann ‘21 and Tranquil Bent ‘21 rallied teammates to move forward on their own. Ostermann had seven years of mock trial experience and Bent had three years of college mock trial experience as well as experience running several different student organizations at Hamline. They both felt very confident in their abilities and respective skills to lead the program.

“When we determined that we had enough students interested in competing this year, we met with Dean Kostihova to ask for her support in us starting a student-run program,” said Bent. “With her support, along with that of the legal studies department, we went full steam ahead.”

The team eventually included Ostermann and Bent, plus Katelyn Krummel ‘23, Claire Pechacek ‘21, Evelyn Humphrey ‘22 and Dean Young ‘23.

Students Take the Lead

They did not have a coach. Instead, they established an executive board composed of five returning competitors who acted as a coach and administrators.

“It became the responsibility of the more experienced competitors to provide guidance to our new students,” said Ostermann.

Serving as president and vice president, Ostermann and Bent managed the responsibilities previously held by a paid program director, which included coaching and the administrative work of setting up scrimmages, registering teams for tournaments, scheduling, organizing, and facilitating team practices.

“The previous program directors and coaches really set us up for success,” said Bent. ”Kelly Rodgers and Ayah Elfarra did an incredible job giving us the tools to manage the program to the best of our ability.”

A Big Win and Another Chance to Compete

Managing the program was one task and competing was another. Undergraduate mock trial is a simulated trial court experience in which students learn about the American Legal System. Students prepare and try a case playing both the attorney and witness roles.

The students met for three hours almost every day in January for team practices, a true scheduling challenge for busy undergraduates. Everyone on the team also put in several hours outside of practice to prepare for their roles as attorneys and witnesses in a case involving a wedding venue, a gift of a tainted bottle of wine, a dead bride and a lawsuit. The team also competed in scrimmages against other universities, which provided valuable practice outside of competition.

The work paid off when the team participated in the regional competition via Zoom and they came in sixth place to win a spot in the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS). The victory was sweet but not unexpected given their performance in scrimmages. The other five schools that qualified for ORCS are Rutgers, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Bowdoin, and Berkeley.

“It felt fantastic! It felt like all of our hard work had finally paid off,” said Ostermann. “Our greatest strengths were the skills and determination of our fantastic teammates.”

The team is now preparing for the ORCS with more practice and will compete on March 20 and 21, 2021.

Regardless of the outcome of that competition, as a self-coached team, the 2021 Mock Trial team has already won big and made Hamline history. #PiperProud

3/15/2021

Written by staff.