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Mock trial team optimistic for tournaments

Photo courtesy of Jessica Lewis.
The Mock Trial team participates in local and regional tournaments under the direction of  law professor Melanie Snyder. (Photo courtesy of Jess Lewis)

Every school year, Stevenson University’s Mock Trial team hosts competitions throughout Baltimore county in which dedicated students gain vital knowledge that help build constructive relationships for their careers.

Stevenson University’s Mock Trial team is associated with the AMTA (American Mock Trial Association) and consists of two groups that compete in trial simulations with other colleges in the Baltimore County.

The team is led by law professor Melanie Snyder, who believes that when students join the team, they “develop critical thinking skills and gain knowledge of legal practices, evidence, and procedure” and learn the “importance of team work and professionalism.”

Molly Shaffer, one of the team’s captains, explained that “the major benefit is the relationships [students] are able to build within the team itself, with other teams, and sometimes even with the mock trial judges, who are often real-life attorneys.”

According to Shaffer, the team is given a case file from the AMTA at the beginning of the school year. The case file includes witness affidavits, expert reports, and evidence. With this information, the members recognize a fact pattern of what took place in a case. With this pattern, the team develops two different theories and assigns roles. The team then argues the case in mock trial simulations during scrimmages and invitational tournaments against other schools to prepare for the regional tournaments.

Every year from February to April, the AMTA hosts competitions for Mock Trial teams across the country. The tournament season begins with regional tournaments in February. The teams that win those tournaments get a chance to participate in the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) in March. The top six winners of those competitions the receive a bid to participate in the National Championship Tournament in April.

Snyder said that the team has had a successful year, so far. having competed successfully in previous tournaments. They are scheduled to compete in another competition at Johns Hopkins University in January.

Stevenson will also co-host the 2018 regional tournament along with the University of Baltimore County (UMBC) on the Greenspring campus on Feb. 24 and 25. Thirty teams from the Baltimore region are slated to attend the event.

Shaffer said that the Mock Trial Team encourages students of all majors to audition for the team especially those interested in learning how to argue effectively.

Students who are interested in the mock trial team can attend informational sessions at the beginning of each school year to gain an insight into what the team is about. Auditions for the team are held in September.

For more information, students can contact Melanie Snyder by campus email, or visit their Facebook page at

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Mock trial team optimistic for tournaments