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The Eastern Kentucky University Mock Trial teams competed strongly during tournaments that took place over the fall 2021 semester, and are finalizing preparations for regional competitions that will take place in February 2022. 

At the 11th Annual Owl Classic hosted by Kennesaw State University in October, EKU placed first and third. Outstanding Attorneys were Danielle Underwood, a senior paralegal science major from Olive Hill, Ky., Ethan Fowlie, senior fire protection engineering and arson investigation major from St. Charles, Mo., and Abbey Birch, a senior political science major from Union, Ky. Carley Frost, a sophomore political science major from London, Ky., was named an Outstanding Witness. 

The team earned an Honorable Mention placing at the Mockathon Invitational hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in October. Frost was again named an Outstanding Witness. 

Illinois State University hosted its Back to Normal Tournament in November, where EKU earned an Honorable Mention for the Spirit of AMTA Award, presented to the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play. 

The team placed first and third during its home tournament in November, called the Colonel Classic Tournament. Ethan Fowlie took home an Outstanding Attorney honor while Kate Richardon, a senior political science major from Richmond, garnered an Outstanding Witness award.

Mock Trial is an opportunity for students to learn about the judicial system, develop critical thinking ability, practice teamwork and enhance communication skills. Teams are composed of student competitors who prepare a criminal or civil case using materials provided by the American Mock Trial Association. Three attorneys and three witnesses compete over four rounds during a competition. Teams must be prepared to argue both sides of the case, as sides are selected immediately before each round begins. 

While mock trial students all take the same class and spend time together preparing during class time, extensive preparation happens outside of class. 

“Each of us spends countless hours on our own and in small groups outside of class refining and memorizing our material to make sure that we are presenting our best work,” said Richardson, team captain. 

Covid has altered the tournament atmosphere over the past two years. EKU competed completely online during the 2020-21 academic year but some normalcy has returned with some tournaments hosting in-person events during the 2021-22 year. EKU has competed both in person and online this semester. 

Richardson said that the team practices in both formats during the semester to ensure things run smoothly. The important thing for the team to remember, she said, is to ensure that any exhibits and demonstratives translate well in the online format. 

“We have been successful in both formats,” she said. “There is an energy to in-person competition that the online format doesn’t capture. I am very proud of the way we have transitioned back into in-person competitions safely and successfully.” 

The EKU Mock Trial Program is sponsored by EKU’s College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. Faculty coaches include  Drs. Thomas Parker, Lynnette Noblitt and James Pennington from the Department of Government and Sarah Jo Jacobs from the EKU School of Music.