Mock Trial Teams Finish ‘Way Past’ Set Expectations

Abha Bhattarai

By Abha BhattaraiThe Daily Northwestern

Two of Northwestern’s three mock trial teams finished among the top five percent of the 550 mock trial teams that competed at the Gold National Championship Tournament this weekend.

The teams, which were headed by Weinberg senior Claire Bergeron and Weinberg sophomore Alex Jarrell, traveled to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the tournament. Two judges scored 64 competing teams at the national level through four rounds of competition.

Out of eight possible wins, Bergeron’s team finished with four wins and four losses – leaving them just a few spots away from an honorable mention, said Lul Tesfai, NU’s mock trial group president and a Weinberg junior. The second team finished with three wins and five losses.

“This was way past our goals,” Jarrell said, adding that five of the eight students on his team are freshmen or sophomores. “We were surprised that we did so well, especially because we’re such a young team.”

Each competing team had to argue for or against this year’s case, which involved a hypothetical family that filed a lawsuit after a police officer shot their teenage son.

This is the first time two NU teams have competed in the gold tournament. Last year, one team competed at the gold tournament and another at the silver tournament.

NU’s teams received first, second and fourth place at the Upper Great Lakes Regional Competition in February. All three teams qualified for the national competition, but the American Mock Trial Association only allows two teams from each school to compete.

“That rule ended up hurting us, but we did really well,” Tesfai said. “We almost went undefeated at regionals, and at nationals we were representing the top 10 percent of college mock trial teams in the nation.”

At the regional competition last quarter, Weinberg sophomore David Rojas was selected as an all-region attorney and all-region witness, and Jarrell was named an all-region attorney.

The teams practiced their cases and scrimmaged against other teams almost every day for the past two weeks, said Bergeron, who is also the group’s treasurer.

But, she added, it all paid off.

This year has been the most successful season for NU’s mock trial group since it was created in 1985, she said.

“We faced incredibly good competition,” Bergeron said. “We just missed getting an honorable mention. That’s a huge step for Northwestern’s mock trial team.”

Reach Abha Bhattarai at [email protected]