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ONU to host fifth annual mock trial tournament
Ohio Northern University’s mock trial program will host the fifth annual Polar Bear Invitational Mock Trial Tournament from Jan. 15-16. The competition will take place at Ohio Northern’s Pettit College of Law, Hill Building and Dukes Memorial. A total of 410 students from 27 colleges and universities will participate in the tournament, with teams traveling from as far away as Vermont, Florida and Alabama to compete.
The tournament consists of four rounds, with trials taking place simultaneously in each round. Each mock trial has a panel of two judges who evaluate students on their knowledge of case material and presentation and litigation techniques. On Saturday, the first round of the competition begins at 10:30 a.m., and the next round begins at 4 p.m. On Sunday, the first round begins at 9:30 a.m., and the second begins at 2 p.m.
The case this year, as assigned to each mock trial group by the American Mock Trial Association, is a civil lawsuit brought against a toy company by the parents of a young boy who died after swallowing beads from his sister’s make-your-own jewelry kit. The beads were found to contain 1, 4-butanediol, a predecessor of a drug called gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”). The parents then brought a lawsuit against the toy company for negligence and strict liability that allegedly resulted in the boy’s death.
The tournament awards honors to the top teams as well as outstanding attorneys and witnesses.
Dr. JoAnn Scott, professor of political science and advisor of the ONU mock trial team, emphasized the benefits afforded to students involved in mock trial beyond awards and honors.
“At the ONU invitational, students get the chance to try a case against different regions, where legal norms are different,” Scott said. “Practice of this sort only adds to the mock trial experience. Since the majority of team members are considering law school, mock trial allows them to see if it’s really what they want to do.”
An invitational such as this one is just practice, Scott said. Teams gain experience and learn from their mistakes in order to prepare for regional and national competitions later in the year.
The competition is in desperate need of judges willing to donate their time to one or more rounds during the tournament. Volunteer judges will be compensated with a free breakfast, lunch or both if they participate in more than one round.