Mock Trial team soars to nationals

After placing fifth in the Opening Round Championship, UTD's Mock Trial team will be moving to the national tournament in Chicago

Photo Courtesy of Tony Seagroves

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UTD’s Mock Trial team will travel to the American Mock Trial Association’s annual National Championship Tournament for the first time in school history on April 19-21 in Chicago. The team said they continue to look forward to making a name for UTD’s Mock Trial at nationals.  

According to UTD’s Pre-Law Advising Center, Mock Trial, an academic competition team, familiarizes students with law through a hypothetical legal case they study throughout the course. Mock Trial’s competition season starts off through the American Mock Trial Association’s regional tournaments, from which 192 teams advance to the Opening Round Championship Series Tournament (ORCS). UTD’s Mock Trial recently placed No. 5 within ORCS with a record of 5.5 wins. With UTD making it into the top six teams from each ORCS tournament to advance to AMTA’s National Championship Tournament, Mock Trial is determined to win the nationals.  

Political science sophomore Adhithi Ramprakash, who will be serving as a defense attorney in the National Championship Tournament, said she is competing with precaution since this is UTD Mock Trial’s first time at nationals.  

“There are a lot of [competing teams] who have been to nationals before, we are one of maybe two other teams that are making it to nationals for the very first time,” Ramprakash said. “So, I am going in with a little bit of caution, going in with a little bit of nervousness, but also a lot of confidence in my team and myself because I know that we can make a good showing at nationals.” 

According to coach Tony Seagroves, who is also a practicing attorney, UTD’s Mock Trial team participated in invitational meets in the fall where members had the chance to further understand their case. National rankings began when the team participated in Arlington Regionals on Feb. 23-25 and placed first, then advanced to the Opening Round Championship Series Tournament from March 16-18 in Cincinnati, Ohio. After placing 5th in the Opening Round Championship Series, Mock Trial advanced to the 39th AMTA National Championship Tournament where the top 48 teams compete.  

“We’ve put in just as much work [as the other big-name schools],” Seagroves said. “We’ve worked on the procedural processes, we’ve worked on our delivery, our presentations, our characters. We’ve spared no time or budget in making sure that everyone has everything they need to succeed, so to expect anything less than winning the whole thing, I can’t do that. I believe that we have everything it takes to walk away with a championship.”  

Mock Trial handpicks teams for competitions, which must include three prosecution attorneys, three prosecution witnesses, three defense attorneys and three defense witnesses. Role placement depends on performance in previous competitions, with people doubling up on roles to make up a ten-person team for the National Championship Tournament. 

Each season, Mock Trial has captains pick out students for the team; they then train through four classes taught by Seagroves on the basics of law. Psychology sophomore Allison Huang, who will be a prosecution attorney at nationals, said Mock Trial’s teamwork is one of the aspects that helped them succeed. 

“What makes us so good is that we enjoy working with each other,” Huang said. “When we meet up and work, we’re having fun. And you can tell by the way that people talk to each other, they actually enjoy what they’re doing and enjoy doing it with the people that they’re working with.”  

Mock Trial has practiced for nationals via weekly two-hour practices led by Seagroves, where individual elements of the competition are analyzed — like opening statements or closing arguments of the case — alongside weekly three-hour practices where the entire case is studied.  

“Finally, I think UTD has gotten their shot to prove that we are a program that’s competitive to the highest level on the national scale,” Seagroves said. “It’s going to be a great thing for our students to be able to show the nation that we are as good as everyone else in the country.” 

Huang said since the team only has one the National Championship, they have been analyzing the case, writing different arguments for it and studying hard for the competition.  

“It’s well deserved for this team,” Ramprakash said. “I feel like this team has put in the work and put in the hours to be able to make it this far. I feel like I’m very proud of every person on this team and I think it is just amazing that we were able to achieve this together.”  


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