Outside of law schools, mock trials are used by many professional organizations, including the military.
What is mock trial?
Mock Trial is an interactive experience where participants play the roles of lawyers and witnesses while arguing a case before a judge.
Mock trial follows many of the same rules as actual court cases, and is an exciting way to develop advocacy, investigation, and critical thinking skills, while furthering one's knowledge about the law.
In mock trial, your goal is to convince the judge / jury to side with you.
You will need make persuasive arguments. Introduce the right evidence.
Construct a convincing narrative. Establish the credibility of your witnesses.
Build up sympathy for your client. Understand the science.
And most importantly, appeal to your audience's sense of justice.
Of course, while all this is happening, there is an opposing team who will be doing everything they can to thwart you. Anticipating their strategy is essential if you are to outmaneuver them in the courtroom.
Below is an example of what a mock trial would look like.
Lawyers commence the trial by presenting their opening statements, which introduces the judge and the jury to the witnesses, as well as outlining the arguments the arguments lawyers will be focusing on during the trial.
In direct examinations, lawyers will question the the witnesses supporting their case, working together with them to establish the facts and introduce the evidence they need to prove their case.
After each direct examination, the opposing lawyers get an opportunity to challenge and discredit the witness through cross examinations. During cross examinations, witnesses must learn to adapt to and withstand the opposing side's attacks.
After both sides are finished examining their own witnesses, and cross-examining the other side's, each side will make one final appeal to the judge / jury to award them the win, based on the events that occured throughout the trial.
Examinations are made more challenging by a specialized set of rules designed to ensure that the testimony given by witnesses can be relied upon. These rules of evidence, set out what a lawyer (and the witness) can or cannot do in the course of a trial.
Some of these prohibitions are simple (like arguing with the witness). Others are quite nuanced (like prejudicial more than probative).
During examinations and cross examinations, lawyers must carefully pay attention to the conduct of the opposing party, recognize problematic behavior, and call them out, or risk allowing the other side gaining an unfair advantage.
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