Muskrat News Legal Briefs

Mock Trial Tournament Mocked

By the time you read this, the Duke Mock Trial tournament will have ended in a blaze of mock subornation of perjury and mock jury tampering.  In a blatant attempt to gather material for a column, I participated in the tournament and have the following observations.  First of all, I want to thank my team members for their patience and understanding of my sometimes unorthodox tactics.  For the record, I still think the "mock jail break " would have been our best bet.  Second, be forewarned:  "Mock Trial" does NOT mean a contest to see who can mock the justice system better or more creatively.  I wish this had been explained to me before round one.  It would have saved a lot of time and frustration. 

I believe I recovered from my opening faux pas, however, with a stirring re-imagination of the art of direct examination using a combination of mime, African drumming, and synchronized all-body flinching.  However, as is so often the case with cutting edge art, I was unappreciated by the critics, who had to be physically restrained from granting summary judgment to the other team after I finished by head-butting the witness.

Chastened by my experience, and mindful of the threat of a mock citation of contempt of mock court, I pandered to the pedestrian tastes of the judges by playing it safe during my turn to cross examine.  I began by with the basics:  "Are you even capable of telling the truth?  Didn't your own mother go on national TV to warn people not to believe anything you said?  Have you ever faked an orgasm?"  Realizing, belatedly, that the witness was a man, I switched to the old favorite "Have you ever lied to a woman to get her into bed?"   However, he proved to be quite the clever one, responding to each question "No Hablo Ingles."  Stymied, I was forced to fall back on spraying him with Mace and running away.

After being returned to the mock courtroom by two mock burly mock bailiffs, I was released from my full-body restraints in time to deliver what I truly believe to be one of the Mock-greatest Mock closing statement s ever made.  I began by briefly summarizing the predicates of the Dadaist movement, segued into an ode to my client's innocence in rap form, and for my big finish, ripped off what I can only describe as a kickin' version of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," although I think I may have lost points with the judges by smashing my guitar on their bench.  I'm afraid my approach may have been too subtle, but there's a limit on how low I can go.

Unfortunately, my team members let me down.  Their performances were tired and limp, harping endlessly on "facts" and "testimony."  Their repeated invocation of some arcane nonsense called the "Federal Rules of Evidence" merely spurred me to increase my ether intake.  Unfortunately, this did not have the effect I had hoped, only leading to my interrupting them with repeated cries of "Lizards!  Flaming Lizards of Doom!," which turned out not to be a winning argument.

Yes, we lost our case.  However, in the post-mock analysis, the judges (one student, one practitioner, and one professor) were kind in their comments.  Professor Beskind, in particular, was very encouraging in his remarks about the range of opportunities available to a person of my talents in the world of retail food service.  If that failed, he suggested I might enter the world of mock journalism, which TDA pretty much epitomizes.

As a result of my experience, I can offer the following advice if you want to excel at Mock Trial competitions:  First, take the experience seriously.  Practice obsessively, live in the role assigned, and pre-tighten all sphincter muscles to achieve the proper degree of decorum.  Second,  don't depend on your gift for speaking in tongues.  Many of the judges will be heathens who don't cotton to glossolalia.  Finally, and I can't stress this enough:  read the materials before you start drinking for the day.

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