The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Both of Dartmouth Mock Trial's Teams Secure ORC Bids!

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A Picture of Last Year's Mock Trial Team
A Picture of Last Year's Mock Trial Team (Taken Pre-COVID)

Dartmouth’s Mock Trial Society competed this past weekend, February 13-14, at two virtual Regional competitions hosted by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Both of Dartmouth Mock Trial’s two teams won bids at their respective Regional competitions to Open Round Championships (ORCs), to be hosted virtually the weekend of March 20-21. This marks the first time since 2007 that both teams have won bids to ORCs, along with the first time since 2013 that either team has accepted a bid to compete, as the ORCs usually fall over Dartmouth’s Spring Break. Only 6 out of 20 teams competing at each Regional competition win bids to ORCs, with bids allotted based on the team’s weekend record. Dartmouth’s “A” Team finished the weekend with an all-tournament best record of 7 wins and 1 loss, while Dartmouth’s “B” Team finished with a record of 6 wins and 2 losses. From Dartmouth’s “A” Team, Zoe Schwartzman ’21 and Sebastian Fernandez ’24 also won individual Outstanding Attorney and Outstanding Witness awards respectively, which are awarded to attorneys and witnesses who rank the highest out of all competitors.

This year, Mock Trial teams were assigned a civil case in which a person allegedly passes away from pesticide poisoning from a wine bottle that they drank at the rehearsal dinner for their wedding. The catch? The Plaintiff gets to choose before trial begins whether it intends to pursue civil battery or negligence per se (NPS), forcing the Defense to respond immediately to the charge being brought before it. If the Plaintiff chooses to pursue civil battery, they argue that the owner of the winery at which the rehearsal dinner was hosted, Harper Martini, attempted to poison the bottle of wine to harm their soon-to-be son or daughter-in-law; if the Plaintiff chooses NPS, they argue that the winery itself was negligent in its handling of chemical pesticides, which in turn contaminated the bottle of wine that killed the groom or bride-to-be. The unpredictability of the Plaintiff’s choice of charge makes this year’s case all the more challenging and engaging.

Dartmouth Mock Trial Society is divided into two teams of ten individuals who compete on both the Plaintiff and Defense sides. Students play either attorneys or witnesses and prepare opening and closing statements along with direct and cross examinations. Mock Trial is also not complete without the objection battles – students must learn the Federal Rules of Evidence and provided case law in order to adequately enter or keep out pieces of evidence that either support or hurt their case. Dartmouth Mock Trial Society’s abilities will once again be put to the test at ORCs, the final round of competitions before Nationals!

Written by Jolie Kemp ’21, Dartmouth Mock Trial President

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences