TKC Mock Trial sweeps regional tournament against Ivies


A-team. L-r: Robert DeWitt ('16), Leah Trouwborst ('15), Noah Heinz ('13), president Luke Trouwborst ('14), Grant Olson ('14), Michael Mascitto ('13), Mary Pham ('13). NEW YORK—Faced with freezing temperatures and a four-hour journey to Rhode Island without a coach, TKC Mock Trial defeated top schools in their Feb. 2-3 tournament.

The A-team won seven of the eight ballots in the tournament, placing second overall and qualifying for the national tournament. Some of the teams present at the tournament included  Harvard, Princeton, Brown, and University of Pennsylvania.

"Just seeing those names it’s fairly intimidating—they’re good teams,"A-team member Mary Pham ('13) said.

Club president Luke Trouwborst ('14) received an all-region outstanding award, making him the second of all Mock Trial members to win the award in the history of the club. Jonathan Irwin, founder and former president, claimed the first win last year.

There are 23 teams of six attorneys each at the tournament, and the top 12 attorneys receive the all-region outstanding attorney award. Trouwborst was tied for fifth with a group of others.

Grant Olson ('14) won the All-Region Outstanding Witness award, which Leah Trouwborst ('15), Mike Mascitto ('13) and Pham had all won last year.

The tournament was held in Rhode Island at Roger Williams University. The 16 team members left Friday night and arrived back Sunday night.

Trouwborst said the majority of King’s Mock Trial members haven’t been involved with mock trial before King’s, most picking it up this semester for the first time. The B team is almost all freshmen, most of whom have not had past experience.

"Usually an adviser helps out choosing cases and developing arguments, but we don’t have one so we choose ourselves. We've had to train the [new students] in everything," Pham said.

B-team members Abigail Salvatore ('15) and Varut Chee ('15).

The team does not intend to get a coach in the immediate future, finding it a healthy challenge to each member without one.

“There are some logistical issues with getting a coach.  And coaches can be a great help, but bad coaches can be a hindrance, and I think it’s good experience for all of us to have to fend for ourselves and make sure we’re working hard,” Trouwborst said.

Each round takes up to three hours. Each team has three witnesses, three attorneys, a plaintiff and a defendant prepared to argue both sides of the case. Witnesses take the stand, and each side has the chance to ask witnesses questions.

An opening argument precedes the trial, which ends with a closing argument. There are two or three judges on hand who score on professionalism, presentation and then legal skills, and witnesses are scored on criteria such as credibility.

Vice President of Student Development Eric Bennett and Dean of Students David Leedy have helped the team get funding, and the school pays for trips. This is the third overall tournament of the year but the first Regional; the first was at Fordham last semester, and the first two were invitational.

If it had done poorly at Regionals, the team would have had to end its season then, but its last performance qualified it for the national championships.

The team practices one to two times weekly but relies heavily on members’ dedication outside meetings in rehearsing everything from rhetorical skills and delivery to writing up strong cross-examinations.

Pham, Trouwborst and his sister, Leah, all competed in mock trial during high school, with Leah winning the NY State Championship.

“Once you get good at it it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good mental exercise, good rhetorical practice and law schools like to see it,” Trouwborst said.

This article was updated on Feb. 12 at 12:15pm. A previous version stated that there were 15 members, now corrected to 16 members. Also, the team did not compete against Ivies directly but did beat them overall.