The University of Maine Mock Trial Team recently made their presence known at a mock trial meet at Boston’s Suffolk University. The meet, which was originally scheduled to be against several collegiate teams nationwide, ended up being a showdown between UMaine’s team and two Suffolk teams.
UMaine’s meet consisted of two mock trials, which were set up exactly like real trials. The fictional case that the UMaine team worked with was a civil suit about an off-duty officer who responded to an armed robbery call at a convenience store. When he pursued the two young men who had robbed the store, one of them was caught on a barbed wire fence. The young man caught on the fence reached for his cell phone, and the officer shot him, thinking he was reaching for his gun.
“Overall, it went very, very well,” said James Sheldon, one of the team’s members, at the April 7 meet. Sheldon said that the UMaine team won both competitions, the first as the plaintiff and later as the defense.
The team that competed consisted of only three lawyers: Sheldon, Matthew Strout – the president of the team – and Kyle Pfeiffer.
Associate Dean of Students Kenda Scheele, the group’s adviser, said that the mock trial team is “an undeniably motivated group of students.” Scheele also noted the amount of time and dedication that the team has put into getting ready for the meet. Sheldon said the team had to review 200 pages of notes on the case.
“You have to anticipate arguments and evidence [that the opposing side may bring up] and argue both sides of the case,” Sheldon said. “You have to think quick on your feet.”
Sheldon did exactly that. “What happened with me, twice, was we went back and forth on examinations until I finally asked a series of questions that stumped the other lawyers,” he said.
Sheldon said that the meet wouldn’t have been possible without the witnesses, Sean Malone, Anthony Aloisio and Troy Kiernan. Sheldon explained that they came together at the last minute. “They did a great job,” he said. Sheldon said that one of the witness even drove his car down.
The team is looking to get a mock trial course started at the university that might give people more motivation to join the team. Scheele mentioned that the University of New Hampshire has a similar class where students get credit for being a part of the team.