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Presentation on theme: "ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN MOCK TRIAL ASSOCIATION: WELCOME!"— Presentation transcript:


2 BACKGROUND INFORMATION This is a survival action arising from a scuba diving fatality. You are now in the State of Midlands. Midlands has its own statutes, codes and case law: please do not apply any independent knowledge you may have of applicable law. No objections based on spousal privilege are permitted.

3 ANDY ALLEN, as surviving spouse of LEE ALLEN v. NEPTUNE UNDERWATER EXPEDITIONS Lee Allen and Andy Allen signed up with Neptune Underwater Expeditions to explore a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean. On July 7, 2011, Lee died during the dive. Andy, acting individually and on behalf of spouse Lee, is suing Neptune for Lee’s wrongful death.

4 MERITS OF THE CASE This case allows teams to argue a variety of theories of liability and defenses. You are NOT here to decide liability! You should evaluate the students’ understanding and negotiation of the facts as they are provided.

5 Format of the Trial Both sides will give an opening statement, Defense cannot waive its opening or defer until its case-in-chief. No objections are permitted during openings or closings. Each side will call three witnesses, Each attorney will conduct one direct and one cross examination. Both sides will give a closing argument, Plaintiff first. No objections are permitted during openings or closings. Plaintiff may give a rebuttal but is not required to do so. Time for rebuttal need not be reserved.

6 TIME LIMITS To keep the trial moving, there are time limits on openings, closings, directs and crosses. The entire trial (including breaks after each side’s case-in-chief) cannot exceed 3 hours. Each team provides a timekeeper who keeps track of time.

7 WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE ROUND Judging panels will consist of either 2 or 3 judges. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY JUDGED A ROUND, PLEASE FORGET ALL THAT YOU SAW AND HEARD! (Witnesses change, theories change, facts presented change. Do not compare one trial to another!)

8 THE BALLOT You will be given a 5-page ballot. ONE page will be BLUE. This is your score sheet. The other FOUR will be WHITE These sheets are for comments. DO NOT WRITE YOUR SCORES ON THE WHITE SHEETS!

9 THE SCORING SHEET This sheet is BLUE. All scores are written on this sheet. Every function must be scored. List the top 4 attorneys and witnesses. – Be sure to use the students’ names, not their characters’ names. THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY BLANK SPACES ON YOUR SCORESHEET.

10 PAGE 1 The ballot is a carbon form. Do not lay the pages on top of each other. Gray-shaded sections are for Defense comments. Clear sections are for the Plaintiff. Page 1 begins with criteria to use when evaluating. At the bottom, you will see a place to comment on each of the opening statements. Please provide only your narrative critique in this section. - All scores are to be written on Page 5. Page 5 is BLUE.

11 PAGES 2 and 3 Pages 2 and 3 are for you to give comments. Please write legibly. Students are eager to hear your thoughts on how they can improve.

12 PAGE 4 Page 4 covers closing arguments. The Plaintiff will go first and then the Defense. The Plaintiff will then be allowed a rebuttal. It is not necessary for the Plaintiff to reserve time for rebuttal. There is an area to add overall comments about the team presentations.

13 THE BALLOT (continued): The ballots will be filled in with all of the competitors’ names by the students before the round begins. REMEMBER: these forms are carbon copies. Do not lay them on top of each other. REMEMBER: the students WILL get copies of these sheets.


15 IT IS VITAL THAT YOU SCORE AS YOU GO!!!!! Each attorney and witness is scored on a scale from 1-10. 10 is the best and 1 is the worst. Fractions and decimals are disregarded, so use only whole numbers. The teams in the trial will receive a “Win”, “Loss” or “Tie” from your individual score sheet based on the score differential. It is important that your scores provide meaningful differentiation of scores between competitors.

16 SCORING (continued) Ranking of the top attorneys and witnesses at the bottom of Page 5 is a wholly subjective call for each judge to make (but you still have to do it!). Do not consult with other judges about your scores or rankings. Trials are evaluated by multiple judges so that there can be multiple perspectives on the students’ performances.


18 SCORING OPENING STATEMENTS Did the team members present a theory of the case? Did they present clearly, articulately and professionally?

19 SCORING ATTORNEYS Were their examinations well structured and coherent? Did they speak clearly? Did they make timely and accurate objections? Did they avoid specious objections? Did they argue effectively? Did they control the witness on cross examination? Did they demonstrate integrity, courtesy and professionalism? Did they exhibit the mock trial ideals of fair play, civility and friendship?

20 SCORING WITNESSES You are also scoring the witnesses! Did they help their team’s case? Conversely, did they hurt their team? Did they maintain their poise and character? Did they speak clearly? Were they convincing or Were they effectively impeached?

21 SCORING WITNESS TESTIMONY For every witness that is called you are giving FOUR scores: 1) Attorney (Direct) 2) Witness (Direct) 3) Attorney (Cross) 4) Witness (Cross) Attorneys and witnesses should always be scored on how they helped their team.

22 CROSS EXAMINATION NOT limited in scope. (but re-direct and re-cross are)

23 SCORING CLOSING ARGUMENT Did the students explain the strengths of their case? Did the students explain the weaknesses of their opponent’s case? Did the students advocate zealously, competently and ethically?

24 REMEMBER: Score as if you are a JUDGE and a JUROR. SCORING IS SUBJECTIVE! Reasonable minds can differ. The key is meaningful differentiation between scores.

25 MOTIONS The attorneys can make a MOTION TO STRIKE. The attorneys can also make a MOTION TO CONSTRUCTIVELY SEPARATE WITNESSES. No other motions can be made.

26 OBJECTIONS: WHEN SCORING, CONSIDER: Did the student demonstrate an understanding of the law and court procedure? Did the student make timely objections, while avoiding specious objections? Did the student “think on his or her feet”? Did the student deliberately misrepresent the facts or law?

27 OBJECTIONS (continued): Midlands uses a modified version of the Federal Rules of Evidence. What matters are the students’ oratorical and advocacy skills and demeanor. Presiding judges differ and the facts are what they are. Score on performance, not outcome. LET THE STUDENTS ARGUE!

28 RE-DIRECT AND RE-CROSS Re-direct and re-cross are allowed. The scope of re-direct and re-cross ARE limited to the subject matter of the preceding examination. Students do not receive separate scores for these components. Subject to limitations of scope and time, re-direct and re-cross may continue indefinitely.

29 OTHER NOTES ON SCORING: Witnesses are not restricted with regard to costuming, characterizations or use of demonstratives. Students are free to develop their characters as they see fit. Page 1 of the ballot provides detailed criteria to use in scoring attorneys and witnesses.

30 DO: Evaluate: Their knowledge of law and court procedure ; Their “grasp of the case”; The students’ adherence to the mock trial ideals of: Fair play Civility Friendship

31 DO NOT: Question a witness. Object from the bench. Penalize a team for BAD facts. They can only use what they are given. Collaborate with your other judge(s) about scores. The scores you give should be ENTIRELY your own. Reasonable minds differ!

32 INVENTION OF FACT You may see disputes about whether a team has invented material facts not included in the case. Improper invention of fact violates the rules and spirit of collegiate mock trial. What constitutes “improper invention” varies between direct and cross examination.

33 Invention of Fact on Direct Answers given on direct or re-direct examination must be stated in or reasonably inferred from the witness’ affidavit/report. – Students may invent non-material facts that merely provide background information or develop the character of a witness. – A material fact is one that affects the merits of the case and that could reasonably be included in closing argument.

34 Invention of Fact on Cross Answers given on cross or re-cross examination must only: 1.Respond to question asked and 2.Not contradict the witness’ affidavit/report. In other words, students may invent material facts on cross. They may be creative; they may not contradict themselves.

35 Remedy for Improper Invention There is no objection for “Improper Invention.” As in real trials, the only remedy is impeachment. If an impeachment demonstrates that a team has engaged in improper invention, you should reflect this in your scoring by penalizing the impeached team, rewarding the impeaching team or both.

36 INDIVIDUAL RANKING At the bottom of the ballot, please rank the top four attorneys and witnesses. These rankings determine the winners of “Best Attorney” and “Best Witness” awards. Students take great pride in these awards. Attorneys: Witnesses: 1. _____________1. ____________ 2. _____________2. ____________ 3. _____________3. ____________ 4. _____________4. ____________ – BE SURE TO WRITE THE STUDENTS’ FULL NAME (as listed on the ballots) NOT THEIR CHARACTERS’ NAME. – Rankings are a wholly subjective decision by each judge.

37 COMMENTING In addition to scoring, you are encouraged to give oral and written comments to the students. REMEMBER: the students will see your white comment sheets. Comments should be frank and constructive. Oral comments should be limited to 10-15 minutes, per trial, not per judge.

38 Important Additional Items Witnesses are considered sworn and all documents are presumed signed. Formal certification of expert witnesses is not permitted. Expertise is established by laying the appropriate foundation. Keep the trial moving but allow for a brief break after each side’s case-in-chief, if time permits. Blue ballots must be received by tournament staff within 3 hours of the beginning of the trial. Midlands is a standing jurisdiction. Students are required to stand, if able, during direct and cross examinations.

39 AMTA VOLUNTEERS Tournament volunteers (such as the person giving this presentation) may come into your round. This is part of their tournament duties. You should not infer any connection between a tournament volunteer and either team in a round.

40 WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? We will assign you to a room in panels of 2 or 3 people. Scoring judges should sit in the jury box, if one is available. After closing arguments, ensure that your BLUE BALLOT is completely filled out. Ask the timekeepers to take both ballots to the tabulation room together. Limit post-trial comments to 10-15 minutes for the entire panel. Be sure to sign each page of the 5-page ballot and place your initials by any corrections you have made on the blue scoring sheet.

41 THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION! The American Mock Trial Association


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