By Matt Corridoni
It’s 1:30 AM in New Haven, Connecticut on Friday, February 11th, and I am still awake. Surrounded by my teammates, I have my reading glasses on, a pen in my hand, papers spread out around me, and a massive three-ring binder open in front of me. Inside of the binder are the contents of a fake murder case as issued by the American Mock Trial Association. I have spent the last five months of my life working with this case, my teammates, and our coach, Judge Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, an MMC alumna, current Appellate Court Justice, and MMC Board of Trustee Member.
Despite the time I have put in and the meetings I have attended, it’s 1:30 a.m. and I am awake reading case law. The amount of nervous excitement has made it nearly impossible to sleep. Eventually, I will shut my binder and get some sleep and my teammates will make the same decision at various times throughout the evening.
The next morning, we arrive at Yale University bright and early for a welcoming ceremony followed by a captains’ meeting. Prior to the days of the competition, we do not know what school we will be going against and who will be judging us. Each team needs to prepare a prosecution team and a defense team and train witnesses. Our teams’ prosecution will play another team’s defense and vice versa a total of four times throughout the weekend. We do not know which witnesses they will call, what evidence they plan to enter, or their game plan.
In an essence, being on the Mock Trial Team is preparing for the completely unexpected which is both stressful and rewarding. The average day of someone on the team includes learning case law, practicing objections in the shower, and cross examining your friends in the commons on top of class and work. Any available weekend time you have is devoted to practicing against each other and trying to figure out what the other team might to do or say.
All the same, the team becomes a family as the case becomes not just a stack of papers but a part of your life. The preparation and the competition itself is full of tears, laughter, food, stress, and the occasional dance party circa Christina and Meredith in Greys Anatomy.
The typical day of someone on the Mock Trial Team involves forcing yourself to think analytically inside and outside of the class room. I like to think of the Mock Trial Team as a family; we spend so much time together preparing for the same challenges. The process itself is “mock” since you are not dealing with an actual case that has legitimate legal bearing. The way the process enters your life, however, is very real.
At the conclusion of a great weekend where we had a great showing, we had a post-mortem on the train ride back to the city discussing the highlights of the weekend. We will take the week to rest, and then it’s time to plan the end-of-the year party and begin to think about Yale 2013.