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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Trial team goes for gold

Spirits are high as the mock trial team heads to the National Championship Tournament this weekend for the first time in 12 years.

This will be the first year for a BGSU team to compete at nationals since 1993, when the team placed third overall. The team then disbanded because of funding problems and didn’t reform until last year.

At this year’s competition the team will be competing against many well know teams including those from Ivy League schools, said team member Allison Smith.

“We’re just honored to go to the tournament, coming from BG, a school where we’re not nationally recognized for mock trial,” she said.

At the championship, held in Des Moines, Iowa, the eight person team will compete against 40 other teams from universities across the nation, said Nancy Kubasek, advisor to the team and professor in the department of legal studies.

These 40 teams are narrowed down from the approximately 700 teams competing in regionals nationwide, she said.

“They know the competition is going to be a lot stiffer at nationals but they’re really well prepared,” Kubasek said. “They’re also looking forward to that competition.”

The competition will consist of four rounds throughout the weekend, followed by an awards banquet held Sunday and the final championship trial. In addition to team awards there will be approximately ten best attorney and ten best witness awards given, Kubasek said.

This year’s case is Kissner v. Polk Hospital, which involves a dispute over the release of a patient, said team captain Kevin Minnick.

The plaintiff, Kissner, is suing the Polk Hospital for malpractice and compensation for abuse he incurred when a patient attacked him shortly after his release. The defendant claims they did everything they could to cure the patient.

The team played at a number of invitational competitions this season including those at the University of Pennsylvania and in Buffalo, where they placed first at each, Kubasek said.

The mock trial team consisted of an A and B team this season. The qualifying competition came this February when the A team placed second at the regional tournament behind Miami University.

By placing in the top two, they automatically qualified for the National Championship, known as the gold level, Kubasek said.

The B team qualified for the silver level competition which was held in Florida. Due to lack of funding, the B team was unable to travel to the competition, she said.

When the A team heard they qualified for nationals they were surprised and proud, said team member Meredith Fischer.

“We’re really excited and we weren’t sure we were going to make it to the championship round,” she said.

Winners and losers at a national competition can be determined by only a few points, Smith said.

“We’re used to competing where we can win by 10 to 20 points but at nationals you’re on a close playing field where every point counts,” she said.

The team has been practicing two times a week for two hours a day and each member puts in countless hours studying the logical areas of the case, Minnick said.

“Realistically we think we’re a top ten team,” he said. “We know the competition is going to be tight and we’re expecting that.”

Additional practice has been the focus of the team this week, Fischer said.

“We’re nervous but we’re trying to put in some extra hours of practice to make sure we at least feel prepared,” she said.

One thing is sure, the team has come a long way this season, Smith said.

“Our track record has been outstanding this year,” she said. “It’s been part luck, part who you play and part skill.”

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