MSSU’s Mock Trial team ends season with Outstanding Witness awards

It wasn’t just knowing the case forward and back. It was also about developing a character that was credible on the witness stand.

“I worked on position and stature, how I was going to speak with people and look at the judges,” says Chrystalynn Sanchez, who won the Outstanding Witness Award during the 2018 Regional Mock Trial Tournament, held Feb. 17-18 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “I even got a pin like an airline pilot would wear.”

The case members of Missouri Southern State University’s Mock Trial team prepared for during the 2017-18 season involved attempted murder, with a drug angle to it. Witnesses included the victim’s daughter, a pharmacologist, an Uber driver and others. Team members must be ready to serve as both the prosecution and defense during tournaments.

In competition, it’s the details that matter when taking the witness stand, says the Missouri Southern sophomore from Carthage – who took the stand as the attempted murder victim.

“We’re learning practical courtroom decorum as well as many of the things we’ll need to know if we continue on to law school.”

Sanchez, a sophomore working on a double major in Spanish and political science, says she plans to study immigration law after graduation.

While Missouri Southern’s team did not advance onward from the regional tournament, the season was very successful according to Dr. Nicholas Nicoletti, the team’s head coach. What was especially remarkable about their success was the number of first-year participants on the team, including Sanchez.

“For such a very new team, they won an award at every tournament,” he says. “They beat some of the best teams in Missouri at regionals. If we have the same people come back next year, the team has a bright future.”

Sarah Schultz, a sophomore business management major from Baxter Springs, Kan., received an Outstanding Witness Award during the Mid-Missouri Mock Trial Tournament held in January at the University of Missouri.

Jaycee Lee, a senior criminal justice administration major from Aurora, Mo., was also recognized as an Outstanding Witness during the Sooner Invitational at the University of Oklahoma in November 2017.

“Next up is our Mock Trial boot camp in August,” says Nicoletti. “We’ll get the new case and spend a whole weekend learning the ins and outs of it.”