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HPU students bring home sportsmanship award from first Mock Trial tournament

Mock Trial team 2015 for webBy Emily Peisker, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s new Mock Trial team brought home a sportsmanship award from their first tournament held recently at The University of Texas at Dallas.

The American Mock Trial Association gives the “Spirit of the AMTA Award” to the team with the best expression of the values of civility, justice and fair play over the course of the whole tournament, before, during and after trials. The award is voted on by the competition teams and officials, and recognizes the team as best exemplifying the ethics and values of the association.

Mock Trial is a simulation of lower-court trials in the United States judicial system. AMTA acts as the governing body for intercollegiate Mock Trial competition and hosts tournaments at universities across the nation to provide opportunities for college students to gain experience for future law careers. Through the trial simulations, students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as a knowledge of legal practices and procedures.

According to the AMTA website, the organization hosts a series of competitions from February through April each year to foster the development of undergraduate students in the areas of leadership, public speaking, rhetoric and persuasion through a legal forum.

New to HPU this semester, Mock Trial is a team activity led by Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science. Nicole Nehf, a senior from May, serves as team captain. Other members include TJ Counce, a senior from Lockhart; Zachary Eller, a junior from Temple; Christopher Mitchell, a senior from Pecos; Jakob Morgan, a sophomore from Blanket; Madeline Reigle, a sophomore from Brownwood; Skyler Schoolfield, a freshman from Aledo; and Andres Zambrano, a junior from Brownwood.

At tournaments, the team competes as either the plaintiff or prosecution and as the defense. On each side of the case, three students compete as attorneys and three students compete as witnesses.

“The students attended this competition with only three weeks of preparation time,” said Kelley. “They performed incredibly well, especially given the short amount of time they had been working on the case.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s new Mock Trial team brought home a sportsmanship award from their first tournament held recently at The University of Texas at Dallas. Left to right: Christopher Mitchell, Nicole Nehf, Madeline Reigle, Zachary Eller, Jakob Morgan, Andres Zambrano and Skyler Schoolfield. Not pictured is TJ Counce.