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Mock trial

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Title: Mock trial  
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Subject: Moot court, Virtual jury research, Legal education, Legal education in the United States, South High School (Minneapolis)
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Mock trial

Mock trials allow researchers to examine confirmation biases in a realistic setting

A mock trial is an act or imitation trial. It is similar to a moot court, but mock trials simulate lower-court trials, while moot court simulates appellate court hearings. Attorneys preparing for a real trial might use a mock trial consisting of volunteers as role players to test theories or experiment with each other. Mock trial is also the name of an extracurricular program in which students participate in rehearsed trials to learn about the legal system in a competitive manner. Interscholastic mock trials take place on all levels including primary school, middle school, high school, college, and law school. Mock trial is often taught in conjunction with a course in Trial Advocacy or takes place as an after school enrichment activity.


  • Litigation related mock trials 1
  • Competitive school-related mock trials around the world 2
    • Asia Pacific 2.1
    • Australia 2.2
    • United Kingdom 2.3
    • United States 2.4
      • Competition framework 2.4.1
      • Procedure 2.4.2
      • Judging 2.4.3
      • Power matching 2.4.4
        • National championship format
        • Exceptions
        • Power protection
      • Levels of competition 2.4.5
        • Elementary school
        • Middle school
        • High school
        • College
          • Tournament competition
          • Past championship results
          • Forums and social media
        • Law school
  • In fiction 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Litigation related mock trials

Litigators may use mock trials to assist with trial preparation and settlement negotiations of actual cases. Unlike school-related mock trials, these mock trials can take numerous forms depending on the information sought.[1] For example, when faced with complex fact issues in a particular case, attorneys might convene a mini mock trial to try different methods of presenting their evidence, sometimes before a mock jury.

Competitive school-related mock trials around the world

Asia Pacific

Guam has been hosting the Asia-Pacific Invitational Mock Trial Competition annually. In 2011 and 2012, there were 14 teams from Guam, South Korea, and Saipan in its 4th annual competition. The competition was held at the Superior Court of Guam. The teams made up of mostly junior and senior students from high schools. The Champion for 4th Annual Asia-Pacific Invitational Mock Trial Competition was Marianas Baptist Academy of Saipan.[2]

Established in 2005, the Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot was conceived as one of its kind with the aim of promoting skills of trial advocacy. In its 10th successful year (2014), this national trial moot is one of the most appreciated for its innovation and structure. Popular demand led to the creation of three more editions of this unique trial competition [India North, India South, India North East & India West (from 2014–15) rounds.] This competition has the distinction of being the first ever to be held in the North Eastern region of India in 2012. The structure is such that maximum law students from the host institution) participate by enacting the role of witnesses for the oral rounds. The students and faculty welcome this, as it provides a unique opportunity to learn practical aspects of a trial, first hand.

2005-2006 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition NUALS, Cochin Symbiosis Law College, Pune Nimrat Gill, ILS Law College, Pune
2006-2007 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition NUALS, Kochi NLU, Jodhpur Mayur Khandeparkar, G L C, Mumbai
2007-2008 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition NLSIU, Bangalore DES Law College, Pune Ranbir L Chhabda, ILS Law College, Pune
2008-2009 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition Army Institute Of Law, Mohali NALSAR, Hyderabad Vaibhav Sharma, Army Institute Of Law, Mohali
2009-2010 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North Rounds UILS, PURC, Ludhiana NUALS, Kochi Silky Avasthy, UILS, PURC, Ludhiana
2009-2010 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition South Rounds NALSAR, Hyderabad UILS,Panjab University Chandigarh Pranshu Chaturvedi, UILS,Panjab University, Chandigarh
2010-2011 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North Rounds NLIU, Bhopal RGNUL-Punjab, Patiala Deeksha Manchanda, NLIU, Bhopal
2010-2011 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition South Rounds ILS Law College, Pune School Of Excellence In Law, Chennai R.S. Diwaagar, School Of Excellence In Law, Chennai
2011-2012 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North Rounds GNLU, Gandhinagar NLU, Jodhpur Satyam Thareja, NLU, Jodhpur
2011-2012 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition South Rounds G L C, Mumbai NLSIU, Bangalore Yuvraj Choksey, G L C, Mumbai
2012-2013 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North Rounds Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi Sanjay Vasshishtha, Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi
2012-2013 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition South Rounds NLSIU, Bangalore G L C, Mumbai Tuhina Pandey, New Law College, BVP University, Pune
2012-2013 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North East Rounds H N L U, Raipur WB NUJS, Kolkata Subhro Sengupta, H N L U, Raipur
2013-2014 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North Rounds Dr. RMLNLU, Lucknow Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar. Divya Swamy, Dr. RMLNLU, Lucknow
2013-2014 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition South Rounds Symbiosis Law School, Pune ILS Law College, Pune Nrapen Shanker Acharya, V M Salgaocar College Of Law, Panjim, Goa
2013-2014 Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition North East Rounds H N L U, Raipur Pravin Gandhi College Of Law, Mumbai Devanshu Gantra, Pravin Gandhi College Of Law, Mumbai


Mock trial competitions in Australia are held regionally. These include:

  • The Law Society of South Australia Mock Trial Competition comprises a series of simulated court cases by students years 10, 11 and 12 from 32 schools in South Australia.[3]
  • The Law Society of Western Australia Interschool Mock Trial Competition is held each year for students enrolled in years 10, 11 and 12 in Western Australia. There were 773 students representing 68 teams from 38 schools participated in 2011.[4]
  • The Capital Region Mock Trial Competition is organized by University of Canberra. There were teams of schools in Australian Capital Territory region with year 10, 11 and 12 students.
  • The New South Wales Mock Trial Competition has been running since 1981 for students years 10 and 11 in New South Wales initially with 28 schools. There have also been international events with mock trial competitions between Australia and the United Kingdom. In 2008, schools from this region also traveled to New York City to compete in the Empire Mock Trial Competition. The first Asia-Australia mock trial competition via video conference between Australian teams and a Korean team was held in 2009.[5][6]

United Kingdom

The Bar National Mock Trial Competition involves students to take on the roles of barristers and witnesses and present their case against teams from other schools. It has been running annually since 1991 with regional tournaments and the national final. There are 2,000 students in years 10 to 13, 300 barristers and advocates, and 90 judges involved in this competition.[7]

United States

Competition framework

Competitive mock trial functions in yearly cycles. Each year, a case packet is distributed to all participating schools in late summer to early fall. The case packet is a series of documents including the charges, penal code, stipulations, case law, and jury instructions as well as all exhibits and affidavits relevant to the case. During a mock trial, competitors are restricted to only the materials provided in the case packet and may not reference any outside sources. In order to prepare for competition, teams thoroughly read and analyze the case packet.

National mock trial teams consist of a minimum of six and a maximum of twelve official members.[8] The size of state mock trial teams can vary; California, for example, allows up to 25 official team members.[9] Each team prepares both sides of the case: prosecution and defense in a criminal trial, plaintiff and defense in a civil action. Each side is composed of three attorneys (or in certain cases, two attorneys) and three witnesses, all played by members of the team. Therefore, the team's twelve members must be organized into two teams of five-six for the prosecution/plaintiff and defense sides.[10][11] It is important to note that high school mock trial is governed by state bar associations, meaning that cases, rules, and competition structure vary from state to state whereas all of college mock trial is governed by the American Mock Trial Association, meaning that every school uses the same case and is subject to the same rules.


A student giving his closing argument during a mock trial

The mock trial begins with the judge entering the courtroom. The judge then gives out the instructions to the jury (about what they are to listen to). Then if there is a pretrial motion, the defense and prosecution give their respective pretrial arguments. The judge then lets the prosecution or plaintiff give an opening statement followed by the opening statement of the defense. After the opening statements, examination of the witnesses begins. The prosecution/plaintiff calls their witnesses first. A student competitor attorney for the prosecution/plaintiff does a direct examination of the witness. Once the direct examination is complete, the opposing team may cross-examine the witness. After the cross-examination, if the first team chooses, they may redirect the witness and, likewise, the other team may do a re-cross after this. This process is repeated for the two remaining plaintiff witnesses. Once the prosecution/plaintiff has finished with their witnesses, the process is repeated with the defense witnesses, having the defense attorneys direct and the plaintiff attorneys cross-examine.[10]

Once all of the witnesses have been examined, the trial moves to closing arguments. The prosecutor/plaintiff again goes first. After the defense finishes their closing argument, the plaintiff may give a rebuttal argument if they still have time remaining. In some competitions, the rebuttal is limited to the scope of the defense’s closing argument.[10] Time limits are set at each level of competition to prevent the trials from running too long and to keep rounds of competition running smoothly.


Attorney evaluators give critique at the end of a mock trial competition.

There are several different ways that a mock trial can be judged. In one, the judges for scoring the mock trial consist of the presiding judge and two scoring judges, all of whom score the teams. In a second method, there are two scoring judges and the presiding judge, as in the first method, but the presiding judge does not score the teams, rather the judge simply votes or casts a ballot for one team or another.[10] In yet another method of judging, there are three scoring judges and the presiding judge is not involved in the scoring of the teams. Often at college invitationals, there are two scoring judges, one of whom doubles as the presiding judge. Since enticing attorneys to judge is notoriously difficult (as judges are rarely compensated with more than a free lunch), it is rare to see more than two judges in a round at most competitions.

Unlike real law, the victorious team does not necessarily have to win on the merits of the case. Instead, evaluators score individual attorneys and witnesses on a 1-10 scale (though some states use different scales for high school competitions) based on each stage of the trial. These consist of the opening statements for the plaintiff and defense, each of the witnesses’ testimony, direct and cross-examination by attorneys, and the closing statements for both sides. The team with the highest total number of points is often, but not always, the team that wins the judge's verdict. Given this method of scoring, it is possible for the defendant to be found guilty or lose the case but for the defense team to still win the round.

In some competitions, points can be deducted from a team’s score for testifying with information outside the scope of the mock trial materials and for unsportsmanlike conduct or abuse of objections. However, scores are completely at a judge's discretion, meaning that scores are subjective based on different evaluation criteria.

Power matching

In the first round of the tournament, all of the teams are randomly matched to compete with each other. After the first round of some tournaments, teams are “power matched” to go up against other teams with similar records (e.g. in the second round, a 1-0 team will be matched with another 1-0 team).[10] If there is a tie in record, the judges will use the number of ballots and total points earned to decide the matching.[10] This allows for teams to compete with other teams of similar skill.

National championship format

In the national championship format, which is also employed by invitationals across the country, the tournament is power matched through the last round. While this determines the strongest team at the tournament overall, it does not provide an accurate representation of 2nd, 3rd, 4th place teams, etc., because they might have lost multiple ballots to a strong team who placed first.[12]


Of course, there are practical exceptions to the theory of power matching. Tab room coordinators who are creating brackets for each round may deviate from the rules of power matching in order to 1. allow each team to alternate between prosecution/plaintiff and defense between rounds, 2. avoid two teams from the same school competing against each other (Maryland Rule), 3. avoid having a team compete against a team it played in a prior round.[13]

Power protection

When tournaments are power protected, it means that the first rounds of competition are power matched as stated above. In the last round(s), however, the team with the strongest record is paired against the team with the weakest record. This ensures that the best teams do not knock each other out of the running for a rank. Rather, it's anticipated that the stronger team will win and protect their chance at a rank, while there is no harm done to the weaker team who is already out of reach of a trophy. Additionally, this method gives weaker teams exposure to stronger programs that they can learn from.[14]

Levels of competition

Elementary school

At the elementary school level, the mock trial guide by American Bar Association suggests to use role-playing from scripted mock trials such as fairy tale mock trials as a way to introduce the concept of conflicts, trials, jury verdicts in civil trials, vocabulary of the court, damages, and the roles of individuals portrayed in the trial. Therefore, most of mock trials at this level are non-competitive classroom activities.[15] There is no national competition for this level. However, a few states offer intrastate competitions. There are a couple difference formats of competitions for this level.

The first format focuses on how the cases are developed such as New Jersey Law Fair competitions. Students grades 3 to 6 are asked to generate, develop and write the case from their own idea to include details of the facts, issue, witnesses, statements, instructions, sub-issues, concepts and law. As the students at this age range may not know the details of applicable law, students are allowed to create their own law. There are no specific themes, students can choose any age-appropriate topics. The students are encouraged to do a role-playing in a mock trial based on the script that they have developed to involve other students in the classroom as juries in order to refine their case. Each team plays the roles of both side in their case during the mock trial. The winners will perform their case in the real court.[16]

In North Carolina, the competition has a different format which focuses more on presentation skills. All teams are given the same case which has been written prior to the competition and students are asked to perform role-playing on the case. North Carolina Elementary School Mock Trial Competition uses the winning entries from New Jersey Law Fair in the prior year as the cases for students to perform.[17]

Another format is to follow the standard format similar to the high school level but with less technical restriction. All teams are given the same material related to a case and prepare for the competition. Two teams compete in a live mock trial to represent two sides of the case. This format is used in the New Hampshire Bar Association's Mock Trial Competition. However, the first round of the competition is done by video submission where each team performs in both sides of the case. The qualified teams will be invited to the live competition with each team on each side of the case.[18]

Middle school

Although there is no national competition for middle/junior high school level, there are many intrastate competitions held by state/county level organizers:

State Competition Organizer
California Annual Los Angeles County Mock Trial Program Constitutional Rights Foundation[19]
Connecticut The Middle School Mock Trial Competition Civics First CT[20]
Florida Middle School Mock Trial Competition Florida Association for Women Lawyers[21]
Indiana Indiana Mock Trial Indiana Mock Trial[22]
Iowa Middle School Mock Trial State Tournament The Iowa State Bar Association[23]
New Hampshire Law Related Education Program Mock Trial Competition New Hampshire Bar Association[18]
New Jersey Law Adventure [*] New Jersey State Bar Foundation[24]
New York Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Program Bronx County Bar Association[25]
North Carolina Iredell Middle School Mock Trial Tournament North Carolina Bar Association[26]
Ohio Middle School Mock Trial The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education[27]
South Carolina Middle School Mock Trial South Carolina Bar[28]
Utah Jr. High / Middle School Mock Trial Competition Utah Law Related Education[29]
Wisconsin Michael A. Hall Middle School Mock Trial Competition University of Wisconsin Student Bar Association[30]
* With the exception of New Jersey, all competitions have similar format as in high school competitions with some rules relaxed. In New Jersey, the format is similar to the New Jersey Law Fair at the elementary school level with two specific themes that the teams can choose to develop their cases.
High school

The mock trial program was started to allow high school students to experience the courtroom in a hands-on role. The mock trials are set up and structured just like a real court, bound by the same rules.[31] This can help the students to know exactly what role each of the different people in a court (judges, lawyers, witnesses, etc.) do in the judicial system. High school competitions are even held in functional court rooms in the local City Hall to lend additional authenticity to the trial. Cases typically have to do with problems faced by teens, and will usually involve teenagers as witnesses. Each year the case for pre-Nationals competitions alternates between a Civil case and a Criminal case.

A high school mock trial team in Illinois


  • " Mock Trial Forums" Online community forum discussing mock trial related topics.
  • "International Online Mock Trial Competition" Mock Trial Online Competition hosted by practicing litigators.
  • "Young Lawyers Division Statewide Mock Trial Competition" Pennsylvania Mock Trial. Pennsylvania Bar Association.
  • "Florida High School Mock Trial." Florida Law Related Education. 2005. Florida Law Education Association, Inc. 4 Oct. 2006.
  • "Mock Trial Competition." Constitutional Rights Foundation. 2006. Constitutional Rights Foundation. 4 Oct. 2006.
  • "Mock Trials." Legal Explorer. 2006. State Bar of Wisconsin. 4 Oct. 2006.
  • "Mock Trial Tournament." New York State Bar Association. 4 Oct. 2006. New York State Bar Association. 4 Oct. 2006.
  • "Rules of the Competition." National High School Mock Trial Championship. 2006. National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc. 4 Oct. 2006.
  • "Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition." TBAlink. 2006. Tennessee Bar Association. 10 Oct. 2006.
  • "Free Trial Advocacy Tips for Trial Lawyers" Winning Trial Advocacy Techniques blog
  • "Massachusetts High School Mock Trial" Massachusetts Bar Association. 2007. Massachusetts Bar Association. 20 Feb 2007.
  • "Ohio Mock Trial Ohio Mock Trial
  • "Free Closing Argument Video" Mock Trial University, 2012

External links

  1. ^ scholastic mock trials
  2. ^ "MBA is Asia-Pacific invitational mock trial competition champion". Saipan Tribune. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mock Trial Competition". The Law Society of South Australia. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mock Trials Competition". The Law Society of Western Australia. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Mock Trial Competition". The Law Society of New South Wales. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Thomson, Jodie (10 January 2009). "First Asia-Australia mock trial". The National Legal Eagle 15 (2): 18. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Bar National Mock Trial Competition". Citizenship Foundation. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "American Mock Trial Association Rulebook, Page 16" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "National High School Mock Trial Championship". 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  11. ^ NYSBA Mock Trial
  12. ^ "The American Mock Trial Association". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  13. ^ [5]
  14. ^ "American Mock Trial Association". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  15. ^ Putting on mock trials. (PDF) ([Rev. ed.]. ed.). Chicago, IL: Division for Public Education, American Bar Association. 2002.  
  16. ^ "Law Fair for 3rd through 6thgraders" (PDF). The New Jersey State Bar Foundation. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "2012 Elementary School Mock Trial Competition". North Carolina Bar Association. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "Mock Trial Competition Handbook" (PDF). New Hampshire Bar Association’s Law-Related Education Program. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Constitutional Rights Foundation’s 35th Annual Los Angeles County Mock Trial Program" (PDF). Constitutional Rights Foundation. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  20. ^ "2012 Middle School Mock Trial - Billings v. Pearson". Civics First CT. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  21. ^ "Middle School Mock Trial Competition 2012" (PDF). Florida Association for Women Lawyers. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  22. ^ "Indiana Mock Trial FAQ". Indiana Mock Trial. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  23. ^ "The Iowa State Bar Association Middle School Mock Trial Program". The Iowa State Bar Association. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  24. ^ "Law Adventure for 7th and 8th graders" (PDF). The New Jersey State Bar Foundation. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  25. ^ Brosh, Brendan (28 May 2010). "Middle-school students storm court room for 13th Annual Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Program". Daily News. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  26. ^ "Justice Iredell Middle School Mock Trial Tournament". North Carolina Bar Association. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  27. ^ "Middle School Mock Trial - Courtroom Showcase Guidelines". The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  28. ^ "Middle School Mock Trial". South Carolina Bar. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  29. ^ "The 2013 Mock Trial Registration Letter and Form" (PDF). Utah Law Related Education. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  30. ^ "Law School Announcements 9/19/11". UW Law Student Bar Association. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  31. ^ "Mock Trial Education". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  32. ^ [6]
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Law-related Education: Mock Trial main". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  35. ^ "National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  36. ^ "American Mock Trial Association". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  37. ^ a b Cooke, Jason. "American Mock Trial Association". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  38. ^ "History of AMTA". American Mock Trial Association. Retrieved 2013-03-05. 
  39. ^ Jacqueline Minneman, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor (2006). "Mock Trial team wins national championship". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved September 18, 2007. 
  40. ^ "facebook: Stanford Mock Trial". 
  41. ^ "facebook: Miami Mock Trial". 
  42. ^ "facebook: Joey Davis". 
  43. ^ "facebook: Brett Miller". 
  44. ^ "Twitter: College Mock Trial @AMTAMockTrial". 
  45. ^ "". 
  46. ^ National Trial Competition - National Champions, 1975 - present - TYLA


See also

  • In an episode of the American television series The Fugitive, a once-famed attorney and current law professor named G. Stanley Lazer claims that he could reverse Richard Kimble's criminal conviction if the case went back to trial. To Kimble's chagrin, Lazer decides to prove his theory by conducting a mock trial with his students playing the prosecutor, defense lawyer, and jury in front of a live TV audience.
  • In an episode of the American television show "Suits", Mike Ross, an employee of one of New York's top law firms, goes head-to-head with one of his co-workers in a mock trial.
  • In the American television series Shark, the protagonist had a room on his house specially designed like a courtroom to make Mock trials before important cases. It was used in a couple of episodes.
  • In the season 1 episode "Mock" of the American television show The Good Wife, Will Gardner, a partner at Lockhart Gardner, presides as a judge over a law school mock trial. Additionally, in the season 4 episode "Red Team, Blue Team", Alicia and Cary, employees of Lockhart & Gardner, go head-to-head with their co-workers, Will and Diane, in a mock trial.
  • In an episode of Arrested Development, Judge Reinhold has a courtroom TV show called Mock Trial with J. Reinhold, in which he is a fake Judge and the Bluth family uses it as a trial run for their legal defense against the SEC.

In fiction

Year Winner School Winning Students
2014 Yale Law School Hank Moon, John James "J.J." Snidow, Ben Wallace
2013 Georgetown University Law Center L. Lars Hulsebus, Amanda Tumenelli
2012 Baylor Law School Steven Lopez, Mark Walraven
2011 Northwestern University School of Law Karim Basaria, Andrew Crowder, Clare Diegel
2010 Stetson University College of Law Brock Johnson, Katelyn Knaak, Trina Sams
2009 Baylor Law School Joel Bailey, Eric Policastro
2008 Chicago-Kent College of Law Mark Griffin, Joshua Jones
2007 Chicago-Kent College of Law Joshua Jones, Keya Rajput
2006 Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Kimberly Greene, Courtney Yoder
2005 Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Melissa Lyons, Kathryn McCann, Brian Ward
2004 University of Houston Law Center Michelle Benavides, Eddie Berbarie, Julie Gray
2003 St. John's University School of Law Eon R. Smith, Kareem R. Vessup
2002 Northwestern University School of Law Terra Leigh Brown, William J. Dennison II, Christopher L. LaVigne
2001 Stetson University College of Law Thea Dalkalitsis, Carl Mitchell
2000 Notre Dame Law School Shazzie Neseem, Ryan Redmon, Tamara Walker
1999 Temple University School of Law Michael J. Lovell, Amber S. VanHauen
1998 Temple University School of Law Bryan Fortay, Kevin Toth
1997 Northwestern University School of Law Jennifer E. Ancel, Glen G. McGorty, Dana R. Poole
1996 Loyola University Chicago School of Law Jeffrey A. Soble, Matthew Scott Miller, Robert D. Sweeney
1995 Temple University School of Law Robert E. Kelly, Lukas Reiter
1994 Stetson University College of Law Angelo M. Patacca, Jr., Karen A. Williams
1993 Notre Dame Law School Dominique Comacho, Frank J. Kros, Edward Sullivan
1992* Northwestern University School of Law Kate Kennelly, Judith Krieg, Mark Niemeyer
1991 University of Texas School of Law Nick Pittman, Greg Reed, Mark Walters
1990 Stetson University College of Law Marie L. DeMarco, Jennifer S. Eden, Douglas T. Noah
1989 Stetson University College of Law Carol E. McMurry, Charles A. Samarkos
1988 Chicago-Kent College of Law Joel Daly, Lauretta Higgins, Peter Roskam
1987 California Western School of Law Peter Bertling, Bruce McDonald
1986 Washington University School of Law Harry Haytayan, Jr., Mark Lynch
1985 University of Texas School of Law Jerry Galow, Paul Heard, Robert Lapin

The following is the list of winners of the National Trial Competition (NTC):[46]

Mock Trial Competitions*: Georgetown White Collar Crime Invitational Mock Trial Competition, American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition (formerly ATLA) National Civil Trial Competition, Texas Young Lawyers Association/National Trial Competition Mock Trial Competition (NTC), Michigan State University National Trial Advocacy Competition (NTAC), California Association of Criminal Justice (CACJ) Mock Trial Competition, Capitol City Challenge, National Ethics Trial Competition at Pacific McGeorge School of Law, Lone Star Classic National Mock Trial Tournament

Occasionally the winners of mock trial tournaments receive special awards such as money or invitations to special events, but the status of winning a tournament is significant in and of itself.

Every team in a tournament is given the same "problem" or "case", typically several months in advance, but for some tournaments only a few weeks ahead of the tournament's start. The problems can be criminal or civil, which affects many procedural aspects of the trial, for instance the increased rights of a criminal defendant not to testify against himself. The cases are written in an attempt to create an equal chance of either side prevailing, since the main objective is not to identify the winner of the case, but rather the team with superior advocacy skills.

The trial typically, although not always, begins with motions in limine and housekeeping matters, then moves through opening statements, witness testimony (both direct examination and cross examination), and finishes with a closing argument, sometimes called a summation. Throughout the trial, rules of evidence apply, typically the Federal Rules of Evidence, and objections are made applying these rules.

In the United States, law schools participate in interscholastic mock trial/trial advocacy. Teams typically consist of several "attorneys" and several "witnesses" on each side. A round consists of two law students acting as "attorneys" for each side.

Law school

The most notable presence of collegiate mock trial on the internet is Perjuries [4], the national online mock trial community. On Perjuries, mock trial competitors, coaches, and alumni can create user accounts and post in a wide range of forums about mock trial and mock trial related issues. Here, participants can discuss everything from case strategy to incidents in competition that they found humorous. Furthermore, Perjuries provides a space for competitors to post tournament results and rank their competition. The site is wildly popular boasting over 5,000 registered users, 2,000 discussions, and nearly 88,000 posts.[45]

Beyond merely competitive interactions, collegiate mock trial has established a presence in cyberspace. Some mock trial teams have created forums for themselves on Facebook.,[40][41] and spoofs of characters from various cases have even made their way onto Facebook with their very own profiles.[42][43] Furthermore, the American Mock Trial Association has a Twitter feed which provides updates on procedures and tournament results.[44]

Forums and social media
Team Winners Winning Years Runners-Up Runner-Up Years
University of Maryland, College Park 5 2008, 2000, 1998, 1996, 1992 2 1993, 1992
Rhodes College 4 1995, 1994, 1991, 1990 4 2013, 2001, 1999, 1997
University of California, Los Angeles 4 2014, 2011, 2005, 2004 0 N/A
University of Virginia 2 2007, 2006 0 N/A
University of Iowa 2 2003, 2002 0 N/A
Drake University 2 1993, 1989 0 N/A
Bellarmine University 1 1999 4 1998, 1994, 1991, 1987
Harvard University 1 2015 3 2006, 2007, 2010
New York University 1 2010 1 2011
Howard University 1 1997 1 2003
University of St. Thomas 1 1987 1 1989
Wright State University 1 1986 1 1988
Florida State University 1 2013 0 N/A
Duke University 1 2012 0 N/A
Northwood University 1 2009 0 N/A
Miami University (Ohio) 1 2001 0 N/A
University of South Dakota 1 1988 0 N/A
Eastern Illinois University 1 1985 0 N/A
George Washington University 0 N/A 2 2008, 2009
Yale University 0 N/A 1 2015
Princeton University 0 N/A 1 2014
Rutgers University 0 N/A 1 2012
Georgia Institute of Technology 0 N/A 1 2005
Columbia University 0 N/A 1 2004
Georgetown University 0 N/A 1 2002
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee 0 N/A 1 2000
Saint Louis University 0 N/A 1 1996
Loras College 0 N/A 1 1995
Toledo Community College 0 N/A 1 1990
Northwestern University 0 N/A 1 1986
Central College (Iowa) 0 N/A 1 1985

National Championship Round Participants

  • From 1992 until 2010, the "Maryland Rule" was in effect, which placed both teams from the same school in the same division in order to ensure there wouldn't be another championship round between two teams from the same school. The Maryland Rule was repealed before the 2010-11 season.
Year Winner Runner-Up
2015 Harvard University Yale University
2014 University of California, Los Angeles Princeton University
2013 Florida State University Rhodes College
2012 Duke University Rutgers University
2011 University of California, Los Angeles New York University
2010 New York University Harvard University
2009 Northwood University George Washington University
2008 University of Maryland, College Park George Washington University
2007 University of Virginia Harvard University
2006 University of Virginia Harvard University
2005 University of California, Los Angeles Georgia Institute of Technology
2004 University of California, Los Angeles Columbia University
2003 University of Iowa Howard University
2002 University of Iowa Georgetown University
2001 Miami University (Ohio) Rhodes College
2000 University of Maryland, College Park University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
1999 Bellarmine University Rhodes College
1998 University of Maryland, College Park Bellarmine University
1997 Howard University Rhodes College
1996 University of Maryland, College Park Saint Louis University
1995 Rhodes College Loras College
1994 Rhodes College Bellarmine University
1993 Drake University University of Maryland, College Park
1992* University of Maryland, College Park University of Maryland, College Park
1991 Rhodes College Bellarmine University
1990 Rhodes College Toledo Community College
1989 Drake University University of St. Thomas
1988 University of South Dakota Wright State University
1987 University of St. Thomas Bellarmine University
1986 Wright State University Northwestern University
1985 Eastern Illinois University Central College

The following is the list of winners of the National Championship Tournament, as well as the runners-up:

In 2015, Harvard defeated Yale in a 4-0-1 ballot decision. This marked Harvard's first championship win, despite having been the runner-up 3 times previously (in 2006, 2007, and 2010). This also marked Yale's first championship round appearance. Finally, this marked the first year that the case problem for the National Championship Tournament was different from the case schools had been using in competition for the earlier elimination rounds. (I.e. In the past colleges had argued the same case all year long, but starting in 2015 any team that qualified for the championship tournament was given a brand new case to learn and argue in the span of just a few weeks.)

In 2014, UCLA defeated Princeton University in a 3-2 ballot decision. With this victory, UCLA tied Rhodes for the second-highest record of championships (4 wins), behind University of Maryland, College Park (5 wins). This round was also Princeton's first championship round appearance.

In 2013, Florida State University defeated Rhodes College in FSU's first championship round appearance by a 4-1 ballot decision. This was Rhodes' eighth championship round appearance to date.

In 2012, Duke defeated Rutgers 2-1, in what was the first championship round appearance for both squads.

In 2011, UCLA defeated defending champion New York University 4-1 to claim the Bruins' third title, the third-most in the history of the American Mock Trial Association.

In 2010, New York University defeated Harvard University 3-1-1 to win its first National Championship. This was Harvard's third championship round appearance in the last five years following its consecutive losses to Virginia.

In 2009, Northwood University defeated George Washington University 5-0 to claim its first National Championship.

In 2008, the University of Maryland prevailed over the George Washington University in a split-ballot decision (2-1). This was Maryland's fifth title, giving them more total wins than any other university in AMTA history.

In 2007, the University of Virginia again defeated Harvard University. This marked the first ever re-match of a previous year's final round. Virginia again won via a split decision, winning two of the three ballots in the final round. Virginia also became the 4th school to repeat as champions, joining UCLA, the University of Iowa, and Rhodes College, which accomplished the feat twice. Harvard University became the second program to finish as runner up in consecutive years, joining the University of Maryland, College Park. Maryland, however, had the distinction of losing to themselves in one of those two defeats.

In 2006, the University of Virginia beat Harvard University to win the National Championship.[39] In what was the closest final round in AMTA history, the University of Virginia won the championship by a single point using a tiebreaker, after a three judge panel split with one judge choosing Virginia as the winner, one choosing Harvard, and one calling the round a draw. The University of Virginia's victory ended the then-recent run by UCLA, which had won the two previous national championships.

Past championship results

For 22 years, the National Championship Tournament was held in Des Moines, Iowa, the city in which collegiate mock trial began. The tournament left Iowa for the first time in 2007 when Stetson University in St. Petersburg, Florida hosted the Championship. The 2008 National Championship Tournament was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Between 2009-2011, the Championship returned to Des Moines in odd-numbered years, while even-numbered years featured a different venue. The 2010 Championship was hosted by Rhodes College at courthouses in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, while the 2012 Championship was held in Minneapolis. Beginning in 2013, future Championships will be awarded solely on a competitive bidding process, although Des Moines, if it bids, will be given preference during "landmark" years, such as anniversaries of AMTA's founding in 1985. The 2013 Championship was held in Washington, D.C. with the University of Virginia handling hosting duties. The 2014 Championship was held in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Courthouse, with the University of Central Florida serving as the host institution. The 2015 Championship was hosted by the University of Cincinnati, with trials held at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Cincinnati.

The regular season begins in late January, starting with regional tournaments. There are typically more than 600 teams spread across 24 regional tournaments. Each school is limited to two post-regional bids to the "Opening Round Championship Series." Though there were once direct bids from Regionals to the National Championship Tournament, these bids no longer exist. 192 teams advance to the Opening Round Championship, which is held at eight different tournament sites. The top teams at each Opening Round Championship Tournament qualify for a berth in the National Championship Tournament. There are 48 total bids to the final tournament.

A tournament consists of four rounds, two on each side of the case, typically scored by two to three judges in each round. The season runs in two parts: the invitational season and the regular season. Invitational tournaments are held throughout the fall semester and into early spring across the country. At invitationals, teams have the opportunity to test out particular case theories and improve as competitors before facing the challenge and pressure of regular season competition.

Tournament competition

All collegiate mock trial cases take place in the fictional state of Midlands, USA. Midlands is not geographically situated and falls under the protection of the United States Constitution.[37]

On the inter-collegiate circuit, a mock trial team consists of three attorneys and three witnesses on each side of the case (plaintiff/prosecution and defense). The attorneys are responsible for delivering an opening statement, conducting direct and cross examinations of witnesses and delivering closing arguments. Witnesses are selected in a sports draft format from a pool of approximately eight to 10 available witnesses prior to the round. Typical draft orders are DPDPDP, PPPDDD, or DDPPPD but this may vary substantially between cases. Witnesses may be available only to the plaintiff/prosecution, only to the defense, or to both sides of the case. Witnesses consist of both experts as well as lay witnesses. Judges are usually attorneys or coaches, and in some occasions, practicing judges.

Inter-collegiate mock trial is governed by the American Mock Trial Association or AMTA.[36] This organization was founded in 1985 by Dean Richard Calkins of Drake Law School and serves as a regulator of mock trial competition at the collegiate level. AMTA sponsors regional and national-level competitions, writes and distributes case packets and rules, and keeps a registry of mock trial competitors and alumni.[37] The case packet is generally written and distributed prior to the scholastic year in August, and case changes are made throughout the season, usually in September, December, and finally in February after Regional competitions and prior to the Opening Round of Championships. Approximately 600 teams from over 350 universities and colleges will compete in AMTA tournaments. In total, AMTA provides a forum for over 5,300 undergraduate students each academic year to engage in intercollegiate mock trial competitions across the country.[38]


Each state has its own case every year that is different from the national case. This means that the winners of the state competitions, who move on to nationals, must study and prepare a completely different case in time for the National High School Mock Trial Competition in May.[34] The national competition is governed by National Mock Trial Championship, Inc.[35]

[33] Both states rejoined in 2010 after their concerns regarding accommodation had been addressed.[32]

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