Tufts Mock Trial (TMT) placed fourth out of 24 teams competing at the Great American Mock Trial Invitational (GAMTI), which was hosted by the University of Virginia in Washington, D.C. over the weekend of Nov. 1. The Tufts team finished with a score of 8.5 out of 12 and received the most individual awards of the entire weekend, according to TMT Co-Presidents, seniors Anna Lyons and Nicholas Teleky.
TMT competed against teams from Pennsylvania State University, the University of New Mexico, the University of Illinois and Harvard University, according to Teleky.
“We did very well,” he said. “There were three judges per round; each judge has their own ballot. In the first three rounds, we won according to each one of those judges, so all nine judges. One of the judges had us tying with another school, so we would count that as 8.5 wins. And then in the very last round, we met the team that would go on to eventually win everything — Harvard. We lost all three ballots, but it was a really great round.”
Teleky explained that although the team did not win the overall competition, Tufts did win the most individual awards of the entire weekend.
“Anna Lyons got two different awards,” he said. “She got an award for her attorney work and also got the highest ranked witness award in the entire tournament. Mandy Xu got the highest ranked attorney award in the tournament. Another senior, Benjamin Kurland, got a witness award also.”
Teleky added that because the team received an invitation to compete in the GAMTI only one-and-a-half weeks before the tournament, the Tufts team selected six experienced members to attend. The members that competed were senior Benjamin Kurland, junior Will Lorenzen, senior Mandy Xu, sophomore Zabir Islam, Teleky and Lyons, according to TMT External Affairs Officer Eve Feldberg, a sophomore.
The competition focused on the situation of a civil case, according to Lyons.
“One family was suing another,” she said. “There were two 11-year-old boys who had been home alone. They were playing together when they found a gun. The gun went off and killed one of the children. So, it’s one child’s parents suing the other child’s parents for their daughter’s death.”
Lyons noted that once the team enters the courtroom, they have to be in the right frame of mind for the case.
“You have to be in your own head and in the zone — like in an athlete kind of way,” she said. “We sort of have these rituals that we go through as a team. We get excited outside a courtroom because it does take a lot of energy to play these characters for three hours. We huddle together as a team and pump each other up. Then we go in.”
Teleky agreed that confidence is a major factor for the team’s results.
“A lot of it is really knowing that you know what you know before the round starts, ” he said. “When you go into a round, one of the most important things is coming across as confident and polished. A lot of mock trial is thinking on your feet.”
TMT will be competing in two more prestigious competitions this fall. According to Teleky and Lyons, they will be sending two teams to California for the Beach Party, hosted by the University of California Irvine, and two teams to Connecticut for the Yale Invitational.
“Only the top 12 schools in the country for mock trial are invited to the Beach Party,” Teleky said. “This is the first year we got invited, so we’re excited to go.”
According to Lyons, TMT is composed of a group of 35 to 40 students who are divided into four teams, which are reshuffled throughout the year.
“In the fall, we are unstacked — we have about the same level of teams all around,” Teleky said. “We do this because we don’t have coaches — we’re entirely student run. This lets the newer, less experienced members learn from the older, more experienced members. Then, in the spring, which is the competitive season for Nationals, we stack the teams A, B, C and D … putting the most experienced people with the most experienced people to see how far we can go.”
Teleky and Lyons will graduate this May after being involved with TMT during their entire time at Tufts.
“We’ve both been involved with this since freshman fall,” Lyons said. “We’ve both been on the same team. We’ve kind of grown up through the program together, and I think we’re hoping to leave the program in the best possible shape. We want to give them the best possible chances for growing their talent.”