(Posted February 22, 2021)

HUNTINGDON— Juniata College’s Mock Trial team will proceed on to the Opening Round of the National Championship Series of the American Mock Trial Association for the third consecutive year after a successful showing at the Regional Tournament held virtually this weekend. Over 650 teams across the nation competed in regional tournaments over the last few weekends.

“I am very proud that our Mock Trial Team continues to establish itself as a nationally ranked Team,” said the team’s coach Dave Andrews ’74. “It was quite an accomplishment that we only played large Division I schools this weekend, and came away with a 91 point differential over the teams we played.”

Four members of Juniata’s A team won individual honors, including Vidal Glassman ’21 of Seattle, Wa., and Mitch Jellen ’22 of Telford, Pa., as outstanding witnesses; and Meadow Walshaw-Wertz ’21 of Sunbury, Pa., and Dan Cummins ’22 of Clarks Summit, Pa. Hayden Thompson ’23 of Windber, Pa., won outstanding attorney honors for Juniata’s B Team, which was in a different Regional. 

“Our Juniata A Team had the most individual Outstanding Attorney and Witness Awards of any school in its Regional, which is a tribute to the quality of our team members,” Andrews said.

The Juniata A Team will progress to national-level competition March 19-21, where they will face the winning teams from regional tournaments across the country. The Juniata B Team came close to progressing to Regionals, until it lost a close trial to Northwestern in its final trial.

“One of the most impressive facts about this weekend is the teams we played to advance,” said Andrews. “We played the University of Arizona, the University of Southern California, Baylor University, and Arizona State University. The average enrollment of the four teams we played is 40,000. David beat the Goliaths.”

At the beginning of the season, each team receives a binder of discovery for the case they will try during their competitions. This season’s case is a twisted web of winery intrigue resulting in a wrongful death suit. A winery owner hosts a wedding rehearsal dinner for their beloved only child and heir apparent. The knowledge that their child is about to be whisked away to France after the wedding, paired with the intense dislike of their chosen partner allegedly drives the winery owner to lace a “special” bottle of wine with pesticides used in the vineyard. This bottle is gifted to the spouse-to-be with the admonition to imbibe it in private, which they do shortly before their untimely death. In the suit for financial damages, the jury must decide whether it was an excessively high blood alcohol rate or the pesticide that killed the unwanted in-law. 

In competition, each team tries the case four times, twice as plaintiff and twice as defense. All of the teams are given the same information and witnesses must stick to the affidavit provided, but the ways different teams interpret the information highlight and challenge each member’s ability to adapt, problem-solve, and think on their feet. 

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.