Mock Trial Philosophy and Rules

The purpose of the tournament rules is to create a level playing field so all students can derive maximum educational benefit from participation. To that end, teacher and attorney-coaches are encouraged to emphasize the educational rather than the competitive aspect of the tournament.

The Massachusetts Bar Association's annual Mock Trial Program is governed by the rules set forth in the Case Packet. Teams are asked to pay particular attention to the following:

KNOWLEDGE OF THE RULES: Teams are responsible and accountable for knowing and abiding by all the tournament rules. Rules may not be waived even by mutual consent of the parties. Any violation of the rules could result in disciplinary action that may consist of forfeiture or disqualification for the offending team(s).

COURTROOM COURTESY/DECORUM: To allow students to experience first hand how a real courtroom operates, the Massachusetts Bar Association schedules all trial enactments before sitting judges in district courthouses, whenever possible. While mock trials are taking place, the court is conducting its regular business. Accordingly, all students, teachers, and spectators are expected to conduct themselves with maturity and decorum, and to treat host judges and all courthouse personnel with all due respect.

TRIAL SPACE COURTESY: Trial enactments are subject to the physical constraints of the individual courtrooms. Students and spectators may not rearrange courtroom furniture or remove equipment from any other courthouse office unless they have received the permission of the court. Teams are responsible for restoring the courtroom to its original condition at the conclusion of the trial, ready for the next day's business.

PLAGIARISM: Arguments presented in court are expected to be the team's own effort. As with all academic work, plagiarism is prohibited. With the ready availability of videotapes of the trials, a team might inadvertently appropriate another team's strategy or arguments. Coaches should exercise supervision over the use of videotapes to ensure that they are used properly.

WITHDRAWAL/CANCELLATIONS: The decision to participate in the Mock Trial Program is a serious commitment and should not be undertaken lightly. It is inconsiderate when a school withdraws from a trial and/or the tournament at the last minute, after the other side has prepared carefully for the trial, made plans to leave school early and arranged for transportation.

Withdrawing on the day of the trial is also insensitive to the courts, which have agreed to clear courtroom space, and to the judges and attorneys who have volunteered to hear the cases. Teams are asked to consider carefully their decision to participate in the tournament and then honor their commitment.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please call the Mock Trial staff at (617) 338-0570 or e-mail Mock Trial.

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association