FDU Mock Trial team competes in an attempted murder case

By Sarah Cole

President Brooke Reynolds (left) poses with vice president Kayley Irvine (right) (Photos courtesy of Reynolds).
March 5, 2018 (Madison, N.J.) — Florham Campus junior Brooke Reynolds and sophomore Kayley Irvine led their team through a complicated case of attempted murder, deceit and doubt as the Fairleigh Dickinson University mock trial team participated in the 2018 Princeton Regional Championship at Princeton University on February 24-25. The group of nine competed against twenty-six other teams and tied with two other schools, Arcadia University and Vassar College.

The case was a tricky one. A victim narrowly survives an attempted murder. The suspect has been having an affair with the victim’s spouse. For the competition, the mock trial team played the roles of both the prosecution and defense in two different trials.

“We get the case at the beginning of the fall semester and began trying to figure out who’s who and what happened,” says Irvine, vice president of the mock trial team and a political science major. Each team receives a packet of information, including the written statements, or affidavits, of each character.

Even after careful planning and memorization, improvisation is key. “We script what we want our witnesses to say, but we also have to prepare for what the other side may ask,” says Reynolds, the team’s president, who is studying psychology and elementary education. “We get more points for acting than anything else.”

Irvine played the victim, an addict who bought drugs on the night of the attack. “The first time I played the victim, the defense defaced my character trying to use the drug addiction against me. The second time, they claimed I could not remember everything.” They challenged Irvine by asking specific questions about the night of the attack, specifically the drug deal, which tested Irvine’s skill at memorization and improvisation. “The defense asked me how many pills were in the bottle and how much it cost. None of those things were in my affidavit,” Irving said.

The judges of the mock trial competition were real attorneys and judges who are actively working or retired.

“At the end of every trial, most of the judges stick around so we can talk to them and ask what we could have done better,” Irvine says. “Some judges will give their contact information, which is great for networking.”

Team bonding is a priority to Irvine and Reynolds, the only two returning members of the team. “Mock trial is this little community we have built within FDU,” Irvine says. Some favorite bonding activities are playing the board game Apples To Apples and having group dinners.

Mock trial has helped the team develop skills that are useful outside of a courtroom. “In life, you won’t agree with everyone. It is important to see where someone is coming from and understand their point,” Reynolds says. “It’s taught me to be more understanding and respectful of other people’s opinions.”

The competing members of the mock trial team pose together for a group photo at the 2018 Princeton Regional Championship.