Mock Trial for Dummies
Chapter 2: Roles
In Mock Trial there are two roles you can fulfill, an attorney or witness. It’s really up to you what role you’d like to pick. Both roles involve going in front of the court and speaking, as though you were performing on a stage. I probably should have mentioned this earlier but if you have stage fright, you’re not getting out of it in any role. Before I go in depth with the roles, I’ll explain what steps in court each role goes through.
This step involves an attorney questioning a witness. During this, the attorney will present to the court what this witness saw and how he is involved in the case. It’s the attorney’s job to not only lead the court through the events in the case through the witness, but also to defend the witness from the opposing team’s attorney. During a direct, the attorney may also admit evidence; which will be explained in further detail later in this guide.
The opposing attorney will take this time to object to the witness’ direct examination. He will pay attention to see where the holes are in the direct. His job is to make it seem like the witness has no involvement in the case or at least make the witness seem un-credible to the court.
The witness has to seem as credible as possible and embrace his role. If his role is a doctor or a police officer, he will be as professional as possible. Sometimes the role will be a prostitute or a janitor. If the witness is Michael Jackson, you will act, and if you must, dance like Michael Jackson. Witnesses will have the most entertainment in court, acting out their role to the best of their ability with almost no repercussions.
Cross examination is the attorney’s turn to shine. Whereas in a direct examination, the court pays attention to the witness; the cross is where the attorney’s play the biggest role.
The crossing attorney’s job is to poke holes in the witness’ testimony, to make the witness un-credible in the eyes of the court. He will bash the witness to the point where the court is so doubtful of the witness that they’ll throw out the witness’ testimony.
The witness’ attorney, or the directing attorney, must defend the witness and object during the cross examination. It will become much like a fencing match, with both sides jabbing and parrying except with words. The directing attorney must object during the cross examination to make the crossing attorney seem incompetent or at least establish that the cross examination will reveal nothing of importance.
The witness must defend his side as best as he can without seeming too defensive. The witnesses are not there to win the case; they are there to present their view and opinions. Too many witnesses have lost points for being too argumentative during a cross examination.
The cross examination will determine who has the last blood, so it is very important that both attorneys wage a very effective battle against the other.
Opening and Closing:
The opening and closing are much like the first and last paragraph of an essay; they both present the topic and give their points of discussion, with the closing restating this and reinforcing the position taken by each side. Both are presented to the court by an attorney.
Now that you have a good look at the process of a trial, it’s time for you to determine whether which role you would like to fulfill.
The attorney will direct, cross, and if chosen to do so, present an opening or closing. You will lead your witness through his affidavit and cross the opposing side’s witness. Not only that but you’ll also be objecting throughout the case, to interrupt the flow of the other side and to reinforce your case. What’s required for an attorney is a general understanding of the rules (at first), to study the case in detail, and to be intimately familiar with your directing witness’ affidavit. It’s a lot of work and memorization so be sure you take the time before any competition to practice, practice, and practice.
The witness role is essentially an acting role. Well truthfully attorney is an acting role too but the witness is much closer to being an actual actor like you see on stage. As a witness, you’ll need to study your affidavit and draw a personality from it. For instance, if you were a janitor, you would act undereducated. The one thing that witnesses will do is embrace a stereotype. You will also have to know every detail in your affidavit, such as dates, facts, and people. Remember, you are this person, so you must act, think, and talk like him.
Now that you understand the roles, it’s time for you to pick. Are you a person who likes to argue? Or are you a person who likes to act? Your coach can also help you choose what role you should play. Also it’s common for people to try to be an attorney and switch to a witness, or vice versa. Both roles are essential in Mock Trial and can contribute to whether or not you win the case.