Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-02-23

Undergraduate college students from five southeastern states will participate in all elements of a trial during the regional mock trial tournament at Samford University this weekend, Feb. 27-28.

The tournament, hosted by Samford and Cumberland School of Law, is a part of competition sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association.

More than 300 students and coaches will represent 20 schools from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi in competition that will decide which will advance to the national tournament.

Teams of 6 to 10 students will conduct full trials with opening and closing arguments, examination of witnesses, evidentiary objections and trial strategies based on professional practice. Each team will compete in four rounds, two as the prosecution and two as the defense.

"Most teams are coached by attorneys and have been involved in practicing and holding preliminary competitions since September in preparing for the regional,” explains Samford professor and pre-law advisor Dr. Mark Baggett, who is tournament director.

Alabama schools represented are University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama, Auburn University, Miles College, University of North Alabama and Samford.

More than 120 practicing attorneys and state and federal judges—representing every level in Alabama—will serve as judges for the tournament.

The fictional criminal case that all students will try involves three entrepreneurs whose new business, a major movie studio, was about to be profitable when a partner went missing and was discovered dead. The two remaining partners were indicted for murder.

Opening ceremonies will be Saturday, Feb. 27, at 8 a.m. in the moot courtroom of Robinson Hall building, with the closing awards ceremony Sunday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.

Rounds will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the moot courtroom and in other campus buildings. The public is invited to observe.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.