Their court was well in order.
Chemeketa’s mock trial team celebrated the conclusion of its second year, and the increase in success that came with it, with a showcase and reception on April 20 in the Salem campus auditorium.
Students acted as prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys and witnesses, with coach and political science instructor Maria Cruse acting as judge. The showcase ran through the defense portion of State v. Bancroft, the case used this year in competition by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), the governing body of collegiate mock trial. Chemeketa is one of only two community colleges in the country that is a AMTA member.
In the case, a casino owner in the fictional state of Midlands has been charged with attempting to bribe the chairperson of the state’s gaming commission in order to receive a new casino license. The defense team attempted to argue the casino owner was entrapped by an overzealous police officer working for the gaming commission.
The team has been competing in invitation tournaments throughout the year at locations including Eugene, Seattle and Berkeley. The primary competition of the year, the AMTA’s regional tournament, was held in early February in Boise. Chemeketa fielded both an A and B team in the tournament this year due to the increase in participation.
Chemeketa’s A team had the most competitive schedule of the 22 teams in the tournament, facing off against the likes of Cal, Gonzaga and Stanford. The team rose to the challenge, by beating Stanford’s A team in their opening matchup. The B team was an honorable mention for the tournament’s Spirit of AMTA award. Suzanne Johnson, the B team’s captain, received an individual award for Outstanding Witness.
David Hallett, the college’s executive dean of general education and transfer studies and a former practicing attorney, praised the work the students put in throughout the year in preparation for their tournaments.
“I can tell you that I could easily be the president of the fan club of the mock trial team,” Hallett said.
Dean of Social Sciences R. Taylor told the friends and family of the team members they should be proud of the team’s accomplishments this year.
“I hope what you just saw explains to you all the hours they spent (working),” Taylor said.
Taylor also highlighted the Stanford win as a key accomplishment.
Cruse introduced all the team members and also pointed out success in mock trial was more than just knowing the case.
“They have to learn legal procedure,” Cruse said. “They have to learn so much, and we have such a short amount of time to teach it to them, but they do such a great job picking those things up.”