Mock Trial Team going to national tournament

BOWLING GREEN, O.—It's called a Mock Trial Team but Bowling Green State University's success is very real.

In mid-March, BGSU students on the 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 social work major from Hamilton 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 English and political science major from Bowling Green.

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

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 human development and family studies major from Wilmington, and Mike Ellis, a junior business pre-law major from Bellbrook.

“I think this team is better than any team I've had,” said Browne, who is 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.

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(Posted February 16, 2007 )