On Saturday, March 25, 2017, Todd Wachtel, a partner from Levinson Axelrod’s Hillsborough office acted as a Judge for two rounds of the American Mock Trial Association’s Opening Round for their Championship Series, in Wilmington, Delaware. This was essentially the “Sweet-16” of a nationwide tournament for college students that prepare and present all aspects of a Jury trial. While these were “mock” trials, the content was no different than what actual lawyers present at trial, including opening statements, witness testimony, and closing arguments.
Todd was responsible for two things:
- First, he acted as the Judge of the Trial, which included ruling on objections and the attorney’s arguments regarding points of law.
- Second, he was responsible for analyzing the attorneys’ and witnesses’ performance as they moved forward through the competition.
Every season, 600 teams from more than 350 colleges and universities compete in 25 regional tournaments, eight opening round championships and a national championship tournament hosted by the American Mock Trial Association. The organization estimates that more than 5,300 students compete in these tournaments across the United States every season.
“This was an amazing, intense, experience,” said Todd. “I have acted as a Judge in High School competitions, and participated in similar competitions when I was in school, and was amazed at the level of preparedness of all the students. The way these cases are set up, the facts are written in such a way that both teams have a really good chance of presenting a very strong case, and it was very interesting to see the spin that they brought to it. Selfishly, it was a great experience to see the Courtroom from where the Judges sit and to hear arguments presented to a Jury. That kind of perspective certainly can only help what I do every day, in the real world.”
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