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Ohio Northern University to host eighth annual Polar Bear Invitational Mock Trial Tournament

Jan 14, 2014

Ohio Northern University’s mock trial program will host the eighth annual Polar Bear Invitational Mock Trial Tournament from Jan. 18-19. The competition will take place in ONU’s Pettit College of Law, Hill Building and Dukes Memorial. More than 200 students from 18 colleges and universities representing five states will participate in the tournament.

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 the case material and their presentation and litigation techniques. On Saturday, the first round of the competition begins at 10 a.m., and the second round begins at 3 p.m. On Sunday, the first round begins at 8:30 a.m., and the second begins at 1:30 p.m.

The tournament gives honors to the top teams as well as outstanding attorneys and witnesses.

The case this year, as assigned to each mock trial group by the American Mock Trial Association, is the State of Midlands v. Whit Bowman. The facts of the case involve a robbery at RacheterWorld in Midlands on Aug. 30, 2012. After the robbery, a chase ensued, and former police officer and current RacheterWorld security guard Winston Thomas was struck by the front car of the “Tunnel of Terror” ride. Thomas suffered serious injuries and went into a coma, in which he remains on the date of trial. The robber whom Thomas was chasing through the park escaped, and he remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown. Police, however, have arrested Whit Bowman, a park employee who they believe took part in the commission of the crime. Bowman faces multiple charges related to the Aug. 30 incident and related alleged criminal activities.         

Dr. JoAnn Scott, professor of political science and adviser 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 teams participating this year are from the following colleges: Bowling Green State University, Eastern Michigan University, Hillsdale University, Indiana University, Loyola University of Chicago, Manchester College, Michigan State University, Northwood University, Ohio State University, University of Chicago, University of Dayton, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, University of Toledo, Xavier University, and Western Michigan University.

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