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Drake Mock Trial team off to a promising start with fifth place finish

A team of Drake University undergraduates earned fifth place honors at the 4th Annual Marcus D. Pohlmann Mock Trial Invitational at Cornell College over Halloween weekend. The team, consisting of Chris Bartak, Greg Boal, Yvonne Gildemaster, Anna Bergman, Kelli Reisberg and Amanda Hamilton, combined young talent with carefully reasoned preparation in the tournament, which brought together nearly 30 collegiate teams from across the country.

“It was very impressive that a team with so many members that haven’t competed in Mock Trial at the college level before finished so well at one of the first tournaments,” said Mock Trial President, Valerie Whiting.

In addition to the team’s fifth place finish, Chris Bartak, a team captain, was awarded Outstanding Attorney honors.

Drake’s Mock Trial Team faced off against teams including Northwestern, Creighton and host team Cornell, which has traditionally had one of the best programs in the country, making multiple appearances at Nationals in the last several years.

The Invitational at Cornell marked the beginning of a competition schedule that includes six invitational competitions plus regional, semi-finals and, hopefully, a trip to nationals, which will be held April 15-17 in Des Moines, hosted by the Drake Law School.

This year’s competition case is a civil case about a child who swallowed beads that had chemicals on them and died shortly thereafter. The child’s parents sued the toy company that created the beads.

Each collegiate team creates arguments for both the plaintiff and the defense, taking on the role of the arguing attorney as well as relevant witnesses for the case. At each tournament, each team argues for the plaintiff and for the defense twice.

Drake’s program competes regularly against Midwest teams, such as the University of Iowa, Cornell College, Loras College, Creighton University and Washington University in St. Louis, as well as occasionally facing off with teams from the Ivy League and west coast, like Harvard and UCLA.

“Even though Mock Trial is an educational program that allows our members to learn about law, improve their speaking and thinking skills, I love it because we create a family. We spend a lot of time together but we always have fun and work hard,” said Whiting. “We have about 20 students who are participating in collegiate mock trial for the first time this year, and are already off to a great start.”

The team competed in The Macalester Trials at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. this past weekend.

Photo courtesy of Kelli Riesberg

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