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Rockin' Mock Trial: UMM competes against U.S.' best

The University of Minnesota, Morris Mock Trial team finished 4-4 in the Mock Trial Association's Gold Nationals this spring. UMM finished 31st among the 600 teams in the association. The UMM team includes co-captains Jeremy Jost and Jonathan Bringewatt, and members Eva Wood, Collin Tierney, Adam Kopel, Katie Wutchiett, Grace Riedel and Anne Krohmer.

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The University of Minnesota, Morris is a liberal arts college that doesn't have a formal law school. But a group of students has put UMM on the map in terms of legal prowess.

UMM's Mock Trial team earlier this spring matched up among the best in the U.S. at the Mock Trial Gold Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa.

UMM's Mock Trial team was the only one from Minnesota in the Gold Nationals, and it placed 31st among the 600 teams in the Mock Trial Association.

The team was 4-4 at the nationals, meaning it won its case on four ballots and lost on four.

"It means nobody really got the best of us," said UMM Mock Trial lead Jeremy Jost, adding that academic heavyweights like Yale, California-Berkeley, Northwestern and the University of Chicago are among the schools that enter teams.

"It was just a few points either way on every ballot," Jost said. "We were going up against the best teams in the country and we held our own."

In Mock Trial, teams prepare arguments for a mock court case. Team members play attorneys and witnesses, and compete against teams from other colleges.

The teams received their cases in late August and honed their skills before the regional competition in February in Superior, Wis., and the super regional in Waukegan, Ill.

In Minnesota, UMM's competition comes from the U of M's main campus and Duluth campus, Hamline, St. Thomas, St. John's and St. Benedict, Jost said.

UMM's team formed in the late 1990s, but has made significant strides the last three years.

The team earned a spot in the Silver Nationals at Harvard two years ago, then competed in the Gold Nationals last year in Minneapolis, where the team finished 1-6-1.

"We improved a lot in one year," Jost said.

It's also gratifying that UMM's Mock Trial team is competitive while remaining true to student ideals.

"A lot of teams have paid coaches," Jost said. "UMM is a totally student-run organization. That makes it more satisfying when we win."