Colleen Hammond | editor-in-chief
Oct. 21, 2021
The verdict is in: Duquesne’s Mock Trial team is slated for victory this season, already beating two of the best teams in the country.
In a unique blend of acting, public speaking, debate, improv, role playing games and the legal system, the team of roughly 30 people seeks to give students courtroom experience and assist in developing analytical thinking skills. Team members compete against other schools in fictitious trials. Some members serve as witnesses while others, attorneys.
Together, the team creates a story and develops case theory around it. As the team presents the case throughout the season, they look at their scores from competition judges and adjust their case accordingly, said Duquesne junior and third year team member Riley Moore.
At this stage in the season, the team is broken up into subgroups by color. Later in the year, these groups will be split into an A, B and C team. Each team prepares separate cases and can compete at different competitions, but all compete under the banner of Duquesne Mock Trial. The teams are “stacked in order of competitiveness,” Mock Trial President Kelsey McCafferty said.
In her fourth year in mock trial and her second year as president of the organization, McCafferty is attempting to lead her team to another successful year.
After the group’s best season on record in 2020, this year’s mock trial team is positioned to continue their recent legacy. Last year, Duq Mock Trial placed in the top 25% of schools across the country, according to their website.
At the beginning of October, the team attended one of their first invitationals at Dickinson College. The Duquesne Mock Trial Blue team — the varsity equivalent in mock trial — placed first in their season opener. In addition to their overall team success, students Nathan Gierczynski, Moore, McCafferty and Samiya Henry received individual awards for “Outstanding Witnesses” and “Outstanding Attorneys” respectively. In their short season, McCafferty has won four “Outstanding Attorney” awards.
“She (McCafferty) is currently making school history by being the most ranked attorney in Duquesne Mock Trial history,” Moore said.
Their early season success, although celebrated, was not necessarily anticipated.
Another recent tournament took place at Penn State Happy Valley, and Duquesne’s victory there shocked the team as well as their competitors.
“We were not originally invited to that tournament because they did not think that our team was competitive enough,” McCafferty said. “After barely making it into the tournament, I was named as the best attorney and our team won the entire thing.”
The win brought a wave of confidence to the team, and made a lasting impact on participants.
“On our way to winning the tournament, we beat two of the best teams in the nation: UVA and Yale,” McCafferty said.
The team hopes this early success will drive them forward into their upcoming tournaments at Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia State and St. Bonaventure.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Moore said.