The Fresno State Mock Trial team will head down the California coast next month to compete in the 33rd annual American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) National Championship Tournament (NCT).
The team will step foot on the University of California, Los Angeles campus April 21 – 23 to compete against 48 teams. Each will be divided into two divisions of 24 teams each. Those placing first in each division will face-off in AMTA’s National Championship Final Round.
Third-year member Kellie Hustedde, a media, communications and journalism major and association president said, “Making it to nationals was a long and hard process.”
Her roles on the team have included captain, witness for the plaintiff and closing defense attorney.
Before solidifying their spot at the NCT, the team visited many states, universities, courtrooms and invitational tournaments to get the experience they need to continue their success.
On March 25 and 26, Fresno State, for the first time, hosted the West Coast Open Round Championship Series – the nationals qualifying tournament.
There were 24 teams from 17 schools along the West Coast competing for six bids to the NCT.
“Just six teams from each ORCS advance to the National Championship Tournament,” Hustedde said, “There were only 48 bids to Nationals up for grabs, and Fresno State was given the very last bid in the entire nation.”
Second-year member Jackson Hadden, a criminology major with an emphasis in forensic behavioral sciences, has had roles on the team including captain and closing attorney for plaintiff council. Hadden was the team captain who was given one of the very last bids.
He gives all the credit to his team.
“The program who earned the bid was Fresno State. Without our whole program’s effort, it arguably wouldn’t ever have happened,” Hadden said, “But the specific team of 10 who actually scored the points, got the trophy and earned the bid is a good representation of our program’s youth.”
Third-year member Nour Basharaheel, a pre-nursing major, played the role of plaintiff witness in the weekend’s ORCS and won the Outstanding Witness Award.
“To win an Outstanding Witness Award at ORCS, you needed to have 17 out of 20 ranks. I finished with 18,” Basharaheel said, “I honestly still can’t believe I received an Outstanding Witness Award.”
She said she was unsure about her placement as a plaintiff witness for this particular case, but with encouragement from her coaches and teammates, she persevered.
“I thought it was an awful idea. But my coaches and teammates believed I could do it, and with their support, I did,” Basharaheel said. “It’s truly an honor being named one of the top 11 witnesses at the competition.”
She added that representing Fresno State on a national level was “surreal” and the team would not have reached this level of success without mutual support within the team.
“Advancing to nationals is an amazing opportunity to show the nation just how amazing our family is,” Basharaheel said.
The case the team was assigned for NCT is entitled “Alex Taylor v. Trifecta Entertainment.”
“The case students are competing with is a civil case of copyright infringement. A fictional plaintiff, Alex Taylor, is suing the fictional entertainment company Trifecta Entertainment for allegedly stealing Alex’s idea for a stage play,” Hustedde said.
2014 was the first and last year the team earned its way to the NCT. A total of 10 members from the team will be selected to compete in the NCT on April 21 – 23.