Letter from the Mock Trial Committee Chair

Hale Yazicioglu LakeThank you for participating in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 2019 Mock Trial Program, proudly sponsored by the law firm of Morrison Mahoney LLP. We appreciate Morrison Mahoney’s continued generosity as well as the generosity of the hundreds of volunteer attorneys, judges and teachers across Massachusetts who dedicate their time to this valuable program throughout the year. We also appreciate the talented high school students from around the commonwealth who participate in the program and have the unique opportunity to learn about our legal system and advocacy with hands-on experience. The students are what make this program truly special.

This year, the teams are presented with a criminal case centering around a case of mistaken identity, resulting in a police officer’s use of deadly force. The charges are brought under federal law and teams will have to explore and present on issues concerning whether the police officer’s use of deadly force was objectively reasonable, and if not, whether the police officer’s use of excessive force was willful. For this year’s case, and to ensure an inclusive competition, the Mock Trial Committee adopted gender neutral identities for each witness and the victim. This will allow students and teams to elect to confirm the gender, or for gender to be determined by the student playing the witness. Teams should complete their rosters and indicate the preferred pronouns for each witness at the trial.

The tournament will begin in January 2019. As we have done in years past, participating teams will be divided into 32 geographic regions. Each team will compete in three preliminary rounds, alternating between prosecution and defense. Each team will be the prosecution in at least one trial and the defense in at least one trial. The 32 regional winners will then compete against one another at a regional competition at Clark University in Worcester on Sunday, March 3, 2019 (snow date, Sunday, March 10, 2019). The trials will be assigned by random draw. Later that same day, the 16 winners of the morning competition will compete by random draw against one another. The “Elite Eight” and “Final Four” competitions will also be conducted on a single day at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. The State Final will be held on Friday, March 22, 2019, at the Great Hall at Faneuil Hall in Boston. All participating teams are invited and strongly encouraged to attend the State Final to observe the tournament’s two top competitors. The state champion — Team Massachusetts — will then compete for the national title in Athens, Georgia, from May 16–19, 2019.

We are grateful to the members of the Mock Trial Committee for their creativity, support and dedication to the program, developing this year’s hypothetical case and preparing for the tournament. We also thank the Administrative Office of the Trial Court for once again allowing us to use their courts, and the many attorneys and judges who volunteer their time so the students have a rewarding and positive experience. Additionally, special thanks and appreciation go to the staff members at the Massachusetts Bar Association, whose hard work behind the scenes allows this program to function seamlessly. 

We hope you find the experience challenging, enlightening, and fun. Please enjoy the tournament and this year’s hypothetical case.

Sincerely,

Hale Yazicioglu Lake
Chair, Mock Trial Committee