WSU Mock Trial Team prepares for National Championships

Pullman – Washington State University’s Mock Trial Team, under the leadership of Mitch Pickerill, associate professor of political science, has once again won a spot at national competition. The tournament will be held in St. Paul, Minn., hosted by Hamline University, March 16-18.

“It’s astounding,” said Pickerill. “We are still a fairly new program by mock trial standards, with a bare bones budget, but what we lack in experience and funding we make up for in commitment, preparedness, wit and will to win.”

Four WSU teams, comprised of seven members each, competed in regional mock trial competition in Portland Feb. 9-11, and WSU’s Team Green landed a spot at nationals.

Team Green members are Robert Colbert, a senior agribusiness major from Oroville, Wash.; Neil Wilson, a junior philosophy/pre-law major from Tacoma, Wash.; Sheila Gluzer, a senior criminal justice major from Oak Park, Calif.; Annabel Defty, a junior philosophy/pre-law major from Seattle, Wash.; Evan Roth, a sophomore political science/pre-law major from Vancouver, Wash.; Lia Brunner, a junior sociology/political science/pre-law major from Almira, Wash.; and Kari Dixon, a sophomore political science/pre-law major from Tumwater, Wash.

Colbert and Ian Stamme, a junior political science major from Steilacoom, Wash., won Outstanding Attorney Awards at the Portland competition, and for the second year in a row a WSU team (Team Blue) was named runner-up for the Spirit of AMTA Award, which is given to the team that best represents civility, justice and fair play—core principles of mock trial.

According to Pickerill, WSU’s Mock Trial Team has fewer resources than its competitors, which include some of the most prestigious schools in the country. Additionally, WSU’s team has been competing for just four years compared to other schools with legacies dating back several decades.

“We do not have the funding to attend invitations all over the country to help prepare for regionals,” said Brunner, the only senior and the only first-year mock trial team member on her team. “Most schools attend at least one out-of-state invitational. Some schools, such as Stanford, attend several. We simply do not have the budget, yet we showed powerhouse schools that we are a serious contender with a respectable mock trial program,”
Brunner said.

“Each of our teams had the potential to go all the way to nationals,” said Denise Mowder, a graduate student in criminal justice and the Mock Trial Team’s assistant coach. “Each of these students had put aside their lives and immersed themselves into their roles. In just three months, they learned more law than first-year law students. Our teams walked into those
courtrooms better trial attorneys than many practicing attorneys,” Mowder said.

“It’s awesome that a team as relatively inexperienced as ours has been so competitive,” said Stamme. “I fully expect our team to do well at nationals and further serve the elite programs in the country notice that Washington State is not to be taken lightly.” Stamme’s team, Team Gray, had just one fewer wins than Team Green.

The WSU Mock Trial Team credits the coaching and support of local attorneys Tim Grebeck and Tom Whitney and WSU alumnus and Seattle attorney Dan Donlan.

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