Last weekend, the UCSB Mock Trial B team took first place, and the A team placed in fourth place at a tournament hosted by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the first Mock Trial event of the year.
UCSB Mock Trial, composed of a Team A and Team B, is one of many groups that participate in simulated trial competitions across the country. The competitions, scored by practicing attorneys and judges, are designed to test public speaking, critical thinking and knowledge of legal strategy by providing teams with mock cases to prepare and carry out in a simulated trial.
In receiving first place, the B team defeated seven other university teams — including Pomona College, Weaver State, CSU Fresno and Cal Poly SLO. The B team is primarily composed of first-year students, in addition to UCSB’s two program captains, while the A team is comprised of eight returning team members.
According to fourth-year English major Mark Montellana, Mock Trial co-captain who has been on the A team for four consecutive years, the victory was largely due to the team members’ ability to think on their feet.
“We were a lot better at thinking on our feet than the other teams … [Fellow captain] Andrew and I are really good at answering things on the fly,” Montellana said. “We’re also really good at doing things without much preparation.”
Since this year’s teams have been performing well so early in the year, Montellana said the future of UCSB Mock Trial looks bright.
“We have very high hopes for this team,” Montellana said. “And we say that every year. But I mean, for some reason, with all these new freshmen, when we say we have high hopes, we don’t mean just this year. We also mean the next year and after that.”
This year, 17 new members of the Mock Trial program increased the total number of participants from 18 to 25. As a result, the program plans to initiate a third team this year, according to Montellana.
Third-year history and philosophy double major Andrew Cavarno, Mock Trial co-captain who has also been on the A team since his first year, said he believes the team performed well partly because of the unusually high number of talented freshmen who joined.
“A lot of the new kids that we got have high school mock trial experience, and they’re very, very talented. So like, they knew what they were doing,” Cavarno said. “We had a ridiculous number of good tryouts this year.”
For this tournament, the teams had two days to practice. Brett Russell, a third-year microbiology major who joined Mock Trial as a first-year, said UCSB tends to do better earlier in the year — despite having less time to prepare — than schools on semester systems.
“We usually come out of the gate strong,” Russell said. “Last year, Fresno was our first tournament, and our A and B teams won first and second, respectively. But this year, Fresno is two weeks from now, so hopefully we’ll be even better.”
Although the UCSB Mock Trial program has yet to reach the national championship, Cavarno said they hope to get there this year, based on their results at SLO and a growing reputation for improved performance.
“Last year at regionals, we out-placed Stanford, Berkeley [and] one of UCLA’s teams,” Cavarno said. “Those programs are traditionally seen as stronger than us. UCSD is also considered stronger than us, but we beat them twice last year, and they never beat us.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of Thursday October 17th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.