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Mock Trial student competition held in Dineen Hall.

Mock Trial

The Syracuse University Mock Trial Team provides an excellent introduction to the dynamics of trial advocacy. Students learn how to argue a case, examine and cross examine witnesses, be successful in the rigorous courtroom environment, and forge a coherent team that capitalizes on individual talents. Students also learn the rules of evidence and the logic of legal reasoning. Students gain excellent presentation and critical thinking skills and can earn credit for what former mock trial students have said is an excellent and fun way to learn.

The SU Mock Trial Team is coached by SU alumni trial attorneys and competes in tournaments sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Teams are selected after classes and training in September and tryouts in October.
Benefits of participating in Mock Trial:
     •  Learning and practicing the techniques of trial advocacy
     •  Competing with other elite schools across the country
     •  Developing excellent analytical and presentation skills
     •  Evaluating whether a legal career might be right for you
     •  Earning course credit

Expand the categories below to learn more about Mock Trial.


Becoming a part of the Mock Trial Program requires dedication and preparation. If competition like this interests you, e-mail the CAS Advising team at  You might also want to visit the American Mock Trial Association Web site.


Mock Trial is both very rewarding and very demanding. Virtually every member of last year’s team commented that it was the most difficult and the most rewarding experience of their College career—that is, the one they enjoyed the most, and from which they learned the most.

"Because of mock trial, I have become friends with people I would otherwise have never met!" -Maryangel Rodriguez, VPA, Class of 2016

"Mock trial gave me an opportunity to represent my university on a national scale, all while making friends and having fun." Luke Strauskulage, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2015

"Mock trial is an invaluable experience. You get to sharpen your writing and presentation skills, compete against schools from all over the country, and make unforgettable memories with your friends." Chelsea D'Amore, Newhouse, Class of 2014.

"I have never, at any level of my education, encountered coaches or instructors who are so dedicated to their students and who work as hard as [our coaches].... The quality of the education we receive through the Mock Trial program far surpasses that which we receive in other classes.... The skills learned—public speaking, creative thinking, working as a group, and being able to think on our feet—will not only help us to write a good paper or get an A on an exam, they will help us for the rest of our lives."
Jessica L. Marsh, Newhouse

"I enjoyed every minute of it.... The greatest component of the team by far is the Coaches.... Their life lessons are invaluable."
Priya De Souza

Tournament Cases

Andy and Lee Park v. Hayden Duran (civil)
Case Summary

In 2010, Sydney Park invited classmates Jesse Duran to hang out at the Parks' home. Both children were 11 years old. The Parks keep a gun in their home. That morning, the gun was discharged, killing Sydney. Sydney's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jesse's parents, Hayden Duran.

Criminal Case Summary
A daring robbery has occurred at RacheterWorld Amusement Park in Midlands. Following the robbery, security officers chased a suspect through the park. During that chase, an attendee at the park was badly injured and is currently in critical condition at Midlands General Hospital. The robber who was being chased through the park escaped and remains at large. Police, however, have arrested Whitt Bowman, a park employee whom they believe took part in the commission of the crime. The district attorney's office says that the investigation is ongoing, and that criminal charges will be forthcoming.

Lee and Andy Allen v. Neptune Underwater Expeditions (civil)
Case Summary

Lee Allen and Andy Allen signed up with Neptune Underwater Expeditions to explore a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean. On July 3, 2012, Lee died during the dive. Andy, acting individually and on behalf of spouse Lee, is suing the Neptune Underwater Expeditions for Lee’s wrongful death.

State of Midlands v. Danny Dawson (criminal)
Case Summary
On September 24, 2010, Vanessa Sullivan, daughter of Midlands’ most prominent prosecutor, celebrated her 21st birthday with two friends, Taylor Hopson and Danny Dawson, at Chuggie’s Sports Bar. After several hours of celebration at the bar, the three left in a car driven by Dawson. On the way home, Dawson lost control of the car, resulting in a crash in which Sullivan was killed. A special prosecutor was appointed because of the conflict of interest in having the victim’s parent’s office prosecute the case. A grand jury has returned a multi-count indictment charging the defendant, Danny Dawson, with murder and driving under the influence.

Davis v. Happy Land Toy Company (civil)
Case Summary
A young child swallowed several dozen beads from his older sister’s make-your-own jewelry set. His babysitter found him lying on the carpet minutes later and hurried him to the hospital. The boy died shortly after. Tests revealed that the beads he swallowed contained 1,4-butanediol, a precursor for a controlled substance called gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”). The boy’s parent has brought a civil lawsuit for negligence and strict liability against the toy company that designed and manufactured the jewelry set that allegedly caused the boy’s death."

State of Midlands v. Jackie Owens (criminal)
Case Summary
The case of State v. Owens is the biggest celebrity trial in Midlands history.  The State of Midlands has charged famous movie director Jackie Owens with the murder of Jackie's business partner, Jacob Bennett, and the evidence against Jackie is strong.  A gambling buddy prepared to tell everyone about Jackie's debts and how Jackie needed Bennett out of the way.  Physical evidence and an eyewitness placing Jackie at the scene of the crime.  And Jackie's other business partner, Casey Maxwell, who has taken a plea deal and said that he helped Jackie commit the crime.  But Jackie Owens has a strong defense.  A company employee and a used car salesman who say it was Maxwell who hated Bennett.  A movie star alibi witness.  A forensic entomologist who says the victim was killed when Jackie was out of the country.  This is a classic murder mystery with a cast of characters and a host of unique evidentiary issues.

Drew Walton v. Blitz News Network (civil)
Case Summary
On September 24, 2006, Midlands gubernatorial candidate Drew Walton participated in a gun control debate against Professor Lane Hamilton at the Midlands Civic Center. After the debate, the two became embroiled in an argument in the Civic Center parking lot. Shots were fired and Lane Hamilton was found dead in the parking lot, the victim of an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Within an hour, Blitz News Network (“BNN”) reporter Reagan Thomas—present to cover the debate—gave a live broadcast that implicated Walton in Hamilton’s death. Walton maintains that Hamilton committed suicide. Walton has now brought a claim for defamation, arguing that BNN’s statements during the September 24, 2006, broadcast falsely accused Walton of shooting Hamilton. BNN denies the allegations, asserting that its statements were truthful and its broadcast was proper.

Midlands v. Bobbi Campbell (criminal)

Case Summary
On November 30, 2006, Child Protective Services worker Don/Dawn Francis arrived at the home of Bobbi Campbell to remove a child from Bobbi’s care. Upon arrival, Francis entered the location and defendant Campbell stabbed Francis with a needle infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. On October 1, 2007, Campbell entered into an Alford plea on the single charge of Assault in the Second Degree and retained the right to a jury sentence recommendation. A penalty phase will now be conducted. The State will present evidence of aggravation and the defense may present evidence of mitigation. The penalty range is five to thirty years.

2006-2007 (civil)
Sean Jeffries, et al. v. Polk County Police Department (civil)
Case Summary

On January 2, 2005, off-duty police officer Jamie Conmey heard a radio dispatch saying that two suspects had just robbed Joe’s Corner Store. While searching the neighborhood, Officer Conmey saw a teenager matching the suspects' description climbing a fence. After the teenager refused to come down from the fence, Officer Conmey shot the teenager in the side. Officer Conmey claims to have seen a gun, though no weapon was found at the scene. The teenager was rushed to the hospital as quickly as possible, where the teenager almost immediately fell into a coma. The teenager was Max Jeffries. Max’s parents, Sean and Leigh Jeffries, filed suit against the Polk County Police Department, alleging that the actions of Officer Conmey, who committed suicide shortly after the incident, and thus the Police Department, deprived Max Jeffries of Jeffries’ constitutional rights to due process of law.

State of Midlands v. Tyler Perry (criminal)

Case Summary
On Friday, October 22, 2004, after returning home from a night out with the soccer team, Bailey Reynolds was kidnapped from the Reynolds home. That evening Bailey’s parents, Ryan and Madison Reynolds, were having dinner at the residence of Tyler and K.C. Perry. They had left their three children, Kayla, Spencer, and Bailey with the babysitter. After checking on Bailey around 11:00 PM, the babysitter placed a 911 call to report a possible kidnapping. The police arrived shortly after the call was placed and found the babysitter, Kayla and Spencer in the home. Upon investigation, a ransom note was found in Bailey’s room asking for $250,000. Three days later, Bailey was found in a hotel in a neighboring town. The child was blindfolded and handcuffed to a pipe in the bathroom. Bailey was not physically injured and was returned to the parents. After the police investigation, Tyler Perry was arrested for the kidnapping.

Kissner v. Polk Hospital (civil)
Case Summary
Martin Dutcher was a high school teacher in the town of Westchester, Midlands.  In early 1998, Mr. Dutcher began to suffer from noticeable outbursts of temper.  The school received several complaints that he was harsh with students, and he reportedly even blew up at members of the school board.  One afternoon, Mr. Dutcher assaulted two of his students in a disciplinary situation. The subsequent trial was followed throughout the community, as Mr. Dutcher’s attorneys decided to use the defense of insanity.  Defense psychiatrists contended that Martin Dutcher suffered from Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a psychological affliction characterized by periodic episodes of severe, uncontrollable fury.  When Mr. Dutcher exhibited one such outburst in the courtroom, the jury seemed convinced, and found him not guilty.  Dutcher was immediately committed to Polk Hospital, a private psychiatric facility under contract with the state, for an indefinite period of time.  Three years after being committed, in late 2003, hospital administrators and doctors decided that Mr. Dutcher was fit to be released into society.  Though public uproar was ferocious, the hospital released Mr. Dutcher on December 29th, 2003. Just one week later, on January 6th, 2004, Dutcher was changing a tire on the freeway when his car was nearly sideswiped.  The driver, Tony Kissner, stopped and began a conversation with Mr. Dutcher.  During that discussion, an altercation began, and Mr. Dutcher struck Kissner numerous times in the head and body with the tire iron he had been using to loosen the lug nuts.  Kissner’s friend, Courtney Sharrow, tried to come to Kissner’s aid, but was also struck with the tire iron.  Before Mr. Dutcher could continue, State Trooper Leslie Ireland intervened.  Trooper Ireland fired on Dutcher, striking him in the collarbone.  Kissner, Sharrow, and Dutcher were all taken to the emergency room at the Midlands University Hospital; Sharrow Dutcher, and Kissner all initially survived. However, shortly after the criminal charges against Mr. Dutcher for the January 6th altercation were dismissed, Mr. Dutcher reportedly ended his own life with the use of a Walther PPK, self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Tony Kissner was a young up and coming amateur golfer, and had been considering turning professional for quite some time. Kissner filed suit against Polk Hospital, alleging that they were negligent in allowing Martin Dutcher to be released from 24-hour supervised care without first ensuring that he longer posed a threat.  Kissner alleges that, because of the negligence of Polk Hospital, he was injured, and as such is entitled to damages.  This case has not been bifurcated and as such, negligence and damages are to be considered in the same proceeding.

State of Midlands v. Michael W. Harmon (criminal)
Case Summary

Tony Sturmanis was a rising star in the world of professional hockey. Tragically, he was killed during a playoff game in Midlands City following a fight with Michael Harmon.  Harmon was later indicted on three counts of homicide.  His wife, Victoria, had recently been romantically linked to Sturmanis.  Also, Harmon lost a lucrative contract to Sturmanis just hours before the confrontation during the game.

Lee and Andi Smith v. J.J. Thompson (civil)
Case Summary

On February 8, 2002, Derric Smith, a seven-year-old boy, died as a result of allegedly being struck by a vehicle in front of his home in State Center, Midlands.  J.J. Thompson, the defendant, is being sued by the parents of Derric Smith for allegedly hitting their son thereby causing his wrongful and untimely death.

State of Midlands v. Ashley T. Thornhill (criminal)
Case Summary

On the evening of March 15th, 2001, Wendell Tucker, partner at Tucker, Roberts, and Payne, was found dead in his office at the advertising firm - the victim of a gunshot wound to the head.  An investigation lead to a grand jury indictment of Ashley Thornhill for murder and the lesser included offenses of manslaughter and negligent homicide.  Thornhill, an associate at Tucker, Roberts, and Payne, denies any involvement in the killing.

Gilbertson v. The Everest Experience (civil)
Case Summary
P.J. Gilbertson, attorney for a Midlands law firm, died on May 10, 2000 during an attempt to summit Mt. Everest.  The Everest Experience, owned by Roger Holman, provided the guiding services to Gilbertson and friend, Barlett Baker; accordingly, a contract was entered into between Gilbertson and Holman. Prior to the final date of climbing, P.J. fell ill with symptoms similar to acute mountain sickness (AMS) and died.  As a result, Gilbertson’s surviving spouse is bringing about a wrongful death action against Holman’s company, The Everest Experience.