Mock Trial team earns spot in national event


Photo courtesy of Joanna Derfelt

Members of the MSSU Mock Trial that will be competing in the championship series pose after the team’s most recent competition.

Last weekend, Feb. 8-9, the Missouri Southern Mock Trial team competed at the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Regional Tournament in Kansas City.  

Their performance earned them the right to move on to the AMTA Regional Tournament’s Championship series.  

The team competed against about 26 schools, said Mock Trial Coach Joanna Derfelt. Of the 26, only seven are moving on to the championship series and Missouri Southern is one of them.

The Opening Round of the Championship series will take place at St. Louis University on March 14-17.

The competition continued to be over the case of Allen vs. Neptune Underwater Expeditions.  The fictional case is between a scuba company and a woman who became widowed after a diving accident.  The team competed as both Plaintiff and Defense.  Students took on the roles of attorneys and witnesses to enact the trial.  This case will continue to be the topic of mock trials through the championship series and then onto finals if Southern qualifies.

Southern’s Mock Trial Team consists of two sub-teams.  The ranking team to compete in St. Louis includes Johnathan Saunders, senior political science major; Jessica Andrews, senior political science major; Anna Sanderson, junior political science major; Mary Duncan, junior communication major; Laura Barr, senior political science major; Laurna Alumbaugh, freshman political science major.

“I’m really excited I wasn’t sure if we were going to get to go,” said Anna Sanderson.  “I know as a whole team we feel really honored because we competed against some top schools … we work well together as a team, we read each other really well.”  

Four students brought home awards for their work.  Johnathan Saunders was awarded Outstanding Attorney with a score of 18.5 out of 20.  Susan Gantt and Jessica Andrews were awarded Outstanding Witness, both with a score of 19 out of 20.  Tristan Routledge was awarded Outstanding Witness with a score of 18 out of 20.  

The three witnesses from Southern topped the scores of all the competing Universities earning the team the All-Region Award.   

Missouri Southern and the University of Missouri-Columbia were tied in first place for bringing home the most awards won by individual students.  “We actually went up against Iowa, a nationally ranked team, and we were the only team to beat them in the whole tournament this weekend,” said Derfelt.

The championship series is at a national level with competitions taking place in eight different cities across the country from March 14-17.  These are known as the Opening Round Championship Series, or “ORCS” in mock trial speak, according to Derfelt.   If Southern’s Mock Trial team makes it to the top six schools competing in the ORCS, the team will compete in the national championship tournament in Washington D.C. on April 12-14.