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UMass Lowell mock trial team moves on to national qualifiers

Jacob Boucher
Connector Staff

Two weekends past at Boston College, the UMass Lowell mock trial team won by advancing from regional to national competition.

With an impressive 5-3 record, the best score a UMass Lowell team has gotten at the Boston College Regional Tournament, UMass Lowell advanced to national qualifiers in Delaware, the Opening Round of the Championship Series (ORCS), for the first time. Of the twenty teams who competed only seven moved on to the national level, the seventh spot going to UMass Lowell.

Other advancing teams from the region include esteemed institutions like Boston College, Boston University, Dartmouth, Brandeis and Harvard. The team was able to compete thanks to funding from the Student Government Association via their grant process.

Dr. Francis Talty, assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, advises the mock trial team at UMass Lowell. In 2006 he organized the Pre-Law Society, and the next year the group began competing in mock trials.

Talty believes the hard-working members of this group do not just walk away with a preview of what a career in law will look and feel like. “An enhanced ability to think critically, the ability to think on your feet and handle adversity, the capacity to present a case cogently…are all skills that students acquire in this activity,” said Talty.

In past years the group has scored as low as 0-8, but recently the group has been reinvigorated with new energy and drive that has led to this underdog victory. “Working with these students is among the most satisfying part of my efforts here at UMass Lowell,” said Talty.

The team’s current captain, Amanda Robinson, has been a part of the mock trials for all eight semesters of her UMass Lowell experience. Amanda’s teammate Malinda Reed said, “If it weren’t for Amanda…then we wouldn’t have moved on. Without her support and her leadership, then this wouldn’t be possible.”

The team did not only walk away from the regional competition with a spot in the ORCS, but also member Thomas Wood was given an Outstanding Witness Award for his roles as two expert witnesses, a forensic scientist and retired FBI agent respectively. Out of twenty available points, he scored nineteen.

Wood is a transfer student who came to UMass Lowell for its criminal justice program. “There’s a visceral rush that you get from competing in mock trial that you don’t get anywhere else,” said Wood. “People are going to start talking about the Mock Trial team as well.”

The B-team last semester won a Spirit of AMTA Award as well, a distinction described as “Awarded to the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civil” by the regional tournament’s official tabulation sheet.

The team will have three weeks to prepare for the national qualifiers after the new case materials are released later this month. Then it’s on to Delaware, where the team will compete against colleges and universities from across the nation. “I take great pride in their accomplishments and I know everyone here at UMass Lowell will be proud of these students as they succeed in their careers and, I am sure, in their continued support for this great university,” Talty said.

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