Learning Module: Conducting the Mock Trial
Mock trials are dynamic by nature. Since the trial is intended to be interactive and spontaneous, there is no script to follow. The affidavits and depositions prepared by students as part of Modules 10 and 11 should be used for by students serving as the attorneys to develop their direct testimony and cross examination questions. A strategy for the 'attorneys' is to be familiar with the affidavits and deposition statements in order to identify inconsistencies in witness testimony. A goal of the attorney is to question the credibility of witnesses.
The structure of the trial begins with an opening statements from the attorneys for the plaintiff and then the defendant. This is followed by presentation of the plainttiff's case and testimony from their witnesses. Each witness is cross examined by the defense attorney. The plaintiff's attorney can then re-direct each witness. When the plaintiff's case is complete, the defense puts forward its case. In a similar manner, defense witnesses are questioned, cross examined, and if necessary re-direct testimony is presented. After all witnesses have been called by the defense, the trial enters the concluding phase where closing arguments are first presented by the plaintiff's attorney, followed by closing arguments presented by the defense attorney. After closing arguments, the judge charges the jury with deliberation instructions. The jury is dismissed to deliberate the case, after which they reassemble to present their findings. The judge reviews the jury's decision and then announces the verdict.
To get a sense of a mock trial environment, view the videoclips of a mock trial conducted at the Ohio State University at the following link. After viewing the videos, complete the questions below.
- Which attorneys in the video were most effective at questioning their witnesses? Why?
- How would you approach questioning a defendant who is being difficult and not providing answers to that level of detail you require?
- The court documents shown in the videos be seen and understood by the courts in the jury?
- Why is it important to have clear and understandable exhibits and can be seen by the court and jury?