American University’s mock trial team placed third in the nation at the National Championship Tournament held April 16-17 at Furman University in South Carolina. Students from 48 teams from 350 schools across the country competed this weekend, waging daylong legal battles in three of Greenville’s downtown courthouses.
“The AU Mock Trial team is phenomenal,” said Don Martin, an SPA adjunct faculty member who coaches the team with Kierra Zoellick, office coordinator for SPA’s Justice Programs Office. “They could walk into any courtroom in the country and perform as well as or better than many practitioners.”
During the three-day competition, the students assumed the roles of both lawyers and witnesses as they participated in full "mock" trials in front of professional judges and attorneys. The teams were divided into two divisions of 24 teams each, and the first-place teams from each division faced off in the championship final round. Yale took first place.
More than 300 attorneys and judges from 22 different states served as judges for the Bell Tower Championship. When adding students and event attendees to the total, Furman officials say more than 1,000 people were involved in the tournament.
Students came from every area of the country for the national championship, representing 350 schools including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Duke, Cornell, Northwestern, Chicago, Michigan and UCLA.
The AU victory caps an especially stellar record for the school’s relatively new mock trial organization. AU’s ranking -- in the top one percent of 663 mock trial teams representing 350 colleges and universities – prompted The America Mock Trial Association to select SPA to host its Feb. 6-7 regional tournament, one of 25 regional contests held across the nation earlier this year.
Learn more about AU’s mock trial teams.