Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students get hands-on court experience in Mock Trial

Students interested in getting hands-on experience in the courtroom have the opportunity to do so, as either attorney or witness, in real courtrooms with real judges through the University of Alabama Mock Trial team.

Mock Trial is a national program that aims to build the legal and public speaking ability of undergraduate students interested in law, debate, theatrics and argumentation.

The Departments of Criminal Justice and Political Science, as well as the Honors College, sponsor the UA team. The current president of the UA team, Elizabeth Kiernan, a junior majoring in political science and English, said the students meet with their team, other teams and the coach between two and three hours a week for training.

The students then practice further outside of scheduled times to work the case individually and in small groups. Kiernan said preparation for competition includes basic training concerning civil and criminal law, team practice and scrimmages against other colleges.

The team then competes at the regional competition against other colleges for a chance to compete at nationals. In the February competition this year, the Crimson team tied for eighth place out of 25 teams, successfully earning a spot in the national Opening Round Championship in Greeneville, S.C.

“This was our first year earning a bid to the Opening Round Championship, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team’s tremendous accomplishment,” Kiernan said.

Kiernan said being a member of the team has helped her develop her public speaking ability and challenged her to expect the unexpected.

“I was forced to see all sides of the case and prepare for the unexpected question or unexpected objection,” Kiernan said. “This is why I believe the most beneficial part of Mock Trial for me has been the strengthening of my abilities to think on my feet and stay calm under pressure.”

Keith Edwards, a junior majoring in public relations and a member of the team, said he has experienced similar benefits to Kiernan.

“It teaches you to expect unforeseeable obstacles and how to logically and effectively present your case, your team and yourself,” Edwards said. “It’s something that’s not only beneficial in the court, but in the real world, as well.”

Edwards said he wanted to join Mock Trial because of his introduction to the program in high school.

“I chose to join Mock Trial because it was something I did and loved my senior year of high school,” Edwards said. “I’ve always been fascinated by law and the legal process, and Mock Trial gives you a great hands-on with cases argued before real judges in actual court rooms.”

The team’s coach, James Todd, said he looks for the ability to speak before an audience, use of language and strong speaking voices in students interested in being a part of the Mock Trial team.

“Students who participate in Mock Trial as lawyers need to be able to communicate a clear and forceful message to the jury,” Todd said. “Those who play the role of witness in a case need to be heard, to be convincing in testimony and to make an impression on the jury.”

Kiernan said Mock Trial has students from nearly every college within UA, and the program is open to students of any major.

Interested students should attend the informational meeting at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, in ten Hoor room 108.

Students can also stop by the Mock Trial table at Get On Board Day or visit their website at

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