Participation in the mock trial program helps students determine if they wish to become litigation attorneys, and helps develop their analytical thinking, oral communication skills, and their ability to "think on their feet."
How Mock Trial Works
In intercollegiate mock trial competition, the students are given copies of court documents and witness statements from a hypothetical case. Each year the cases alternate between civil and criminal matters. Each team participates in two trials in which they play the roles of prosecution lawyers and witnesses, and two trials in which they play the roles of defense lawyers and witnesses. The students playing the role of lawyers must do opening and closing statements, as well as direct and cross examinations.
A modified version of the Federal Rules of Evidence apply and the student attorneys are required to make and defend evidentiary objections in the same way they are handled in real trials. The students playing the role of witnesses are required to respond to the attorneys' questions as real witnesses would, and to make it as difficult as possible for the lawyers on the other side of the case.
Cases in past years have involved such matters as:
- The criminal prosecution of a police officer for alleged excessive use of force resulting in the death of a teenager being arrested for disorderly conduct
- A personal injury suit against a bar for sponsoring a game of "human dart"
- The murder trial of a popular television newscaster that claimed to have acted in self defense when attacked by her drug crazed son
- A libel suit against an Olympic gymnast
- Criminal prosecution for abuse and neglect of a dependent adult
How do I get selected to be on the team?
Students interested in competing on the ISU Mock Trial Team are required to sign up for the POS 283, Trial Advocacy course offered during the spring semester of each year. This course introduces students to basic trial procedures and the rules of evidence. Students in this course are required to deliver opening statements and closing arguments, conduct direct and cross examinations of witnesses, and make and meet objections based on the rules of evidence. Students will be invited to join the actual mock trial team and compete in intercollegiate competition on the basis of their performance in this course.
Mock Trial Feature Information
Illinois State's intercollegiate mock trial program was started in 1987 by Professor Tom Eimermann and alumnus attorney/judge James Knecht.
American Mock Trial Association (AMTA)
ISU's Mock Trial Program is associated with the nationally recognized AMTA.
Illinois State University Invitational Mock Trial Tournament
Illinois State University hosts one of the Mock Trial Competitions.
Mock Trial Scholarships
A limited number of scholarships are associated with the Mock Trial program.