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Ohio State mock trial team sees most successful year yet

Members of the Ohio State mock trial team pose for a photograph behind Judge William H. Woods’ desk in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The team was there for a tournament on Oct. 21-22. Credit: Courtesy of Anna Defendiefer

The mock trial team at Ohio State is in the middle of its most successful season in history, and is aiming for a national championship come April.

The team participates in tournaments across the country, during which it faces off against other universities in a fake trial, acting as characters in a court case, other than the judge.

One school acts as the prosecution while the other acts as the defense. The judges of the courtroom are also the judges of the tournament deciding who wins and loses, based on the case each team argues, said team member Anna Defendiefer, a second-year in economics.

A top-10 finish last year sparked so much interest in the club, it was forced to add a fourth team to their organization.

This academic year, the team took first place at both the Great American Mock Trial Invitational and a tournament at the University of Pennsylvania in back-to-back weekends in November.

“It’s been our best season so far and we’re really hoping to put on a good performance at nationals,” Defendiefer said, crediting the team’s success to its volunteer coaching staff, comprised of law students and attorneys.

Additionally, she said the team dynamic is a source of success.

The team practices six hours in a regular week, and three hours each day during the week leading up to a tournament.

“You form some really close friendships through that practice,” Defendiefer said.

Michael Li, a first-year in finance, said the university’s mock trial team differs from high school groups.  

“Everybody is very supportive of each other,” Li said. “Everybody wants to do well and see each other do well.”

Li initially wasn’t aware of how well the team performed the year before. He said he was thrilled to find out about the success at an informational session.

“That made me more excited about trying out because I knew I was joining a very well-established program,” Li said.

At a tournament the weekend of Jan. 20, the team finished fourth. Last weekend, at a regional competition, the B-team qualified for the Hamilton Invitational in March.

The A- and D-team will participate in the Toledo regional on Feb. 24.

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