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Mock Trial Team Advances To Championship Series
Photo: Mock Trial Team 2012The University of St. Thomas Mock Trial team will compete next month in the Opening Round Championship Series after winning a regional tournament in early February.

This marks the third time in four years that the team has made it to the second stage of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) annual competition.

At the AMTA Houston Regional Tournament on Feb. 4, UST was one of eight teams from about two dozen schools competing that advanced to the Opening Round Championship Series in Memphis, March 23-25.

Two team members also received individual honors – Chris Agboli for outstanding attorney and outstanding witness and Raul Pineda for outstanding witness.

If the UST team makes the top six in Memphis, where some of its competition will include the University of Texas, University of California – Berkeley, University of Washington and University of Georgia, they will advance to the National Championship Tournament in April.

“We’re one of the smallest schools in the competition, and to perform as well as we have is really saying something,” said Rick Young, associate professor of political science, director of UST’s pre-law program and one of the team’s coaches.

The success can be attributed to UST’s strong pre-law program, which attracts more than its share of top students enthusiastic about mock trial, Young said.

About 80 percent of UST pre-law students who apply to law school gain admission

It also helps that students are tutored by practicing attorneys, Young added, including Jason Cox, an adjunct professor at UST who is the team’s primary coach.

At a mock trial tournament teams face-off in a series of matches in which they stand as either the prosecution or the defense, with each side boasting three attorneys and three witnesses. Based on wins as well as points scored during each trial, the top teams are ranked.

While mock trial draws many aspiring lawyers, the public speaking and communication skills students hone in competition are essential in any field, Young said.

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