BGSU Mock Trial team making fourth straight trip to national tournament

It’s called Mock Trial, but BGSU’s success in it is very real.

In mid-March, the University’s team will travel to the National Intercollegiate Mock Trial Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. The team qualified for the national berth at the Lower Great Lakes regional competition earlier this month at Notre Dame University.

Northwestern University will host the national tournament, where BGSU has improved its ranking each of the last two years. After Bowling Green finished 34th in 2003-04, the 2004-05 team moved up to 23rd and last year’s team tied for 10th with Drake University and the universities of Wisconsin and Chicago.

About 10 percent of the roughly 700 collegiate Mock Trial teams nationwide advance from the regional level, which, at Notre Dame, included about 24 teams from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. Leading BGSU’s effort there were five students who collected one quarter of the 20 “Best Attorney” and “Best Witness” awards given overall by the actual judges and attorneys who serve as competition judges.

Among the award winners was M. Allison Smith, a senior from Hamilton majoring in social work and the third-ranked Mock Trial attorney in the nation last year. She was honored in the “Best Attorney” category along with Patrick Emery, a junior from Bowling Green majoring in English and political science.

Top witnesses from BGSU were James Longley, a junior from New Knoxville majoring in creative writing; Shannon Rawski, a sophomore psychology major from Toledo, and Lyndsay Berry, a senior from Brook Park majoring in broadcast journalism.

All five students are in BGSU’s Integrating Moral Principles and Critical Thinking (IMPACT) Learning Community, whose director, Dr. M. Neil Browne, a Distinguished Teaching Professor of economics, is also the Mock Trial team advisor.

Other team members are Shannon Rawski’s sister, Audren, a senior education major; Mandy Valentine, a senior from Wilmington majoring in human development and family studies, and Mike Ellis, a junior from Bellbrook majoring in business pre-law.

“I think this team is better than any team I’ve had,” said Browne, in his third year as the primary advisor. “This group is not only very hard working, but they’ve also taken advantage of the knowledge base” acquired over the last few years, he said, noting that a 100-page book of practice tips has evolved from experience.

Through the team’s success, “it is very much building a tradition and then saying to the University community, ‘Come join a tradition of winning,’” Browne added.

February 19, 2007