Honors student seeks to revitalize mock trial


Photo by Jordan Johnson

Marquette’s new mock trial club will meet every Monday night this semester.

After finding out the university no longer had a mock trial team, junior in the College of Arts & Sciences Aaron Nytes decided to establish a new team himself.

The old team ended in 2015 after the advising coach left the university.

Nytes had prior experience in mock trial during high school. He began the process of creating Marquette’s mock trial team in November, when he garnered a page of signatures, drafted a constitution and received the support of an adviser, Dr. Paul Nolette from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Through recruitment opportunities hosted by the Honors Program and Pre-Law Society, the team received a lot of traction. Nytes said around 30 students attended the first meeting, and they now meet Monday nights. 

At mock trial competitions, team members have case materials presented to them beforehand and have to provide an argument for whichever side they are given, either the plaintiff or defense. Other roles include witnesses and judges.

Jimmy Carlton, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, is the vice president and co-founder of the mock trial team. He is working with Nytes to register A and B teams composed of eight to 10 people, each supported by funding. To receive funding, Nytes is trying to contact local law firms and the Wisconsin state bar for donations, since Marquette University Student Government won’t cover the American Mock Trial Association national fees. 

Given current numbers, they are exploring the idea of holding tryouts and having a general body team that competes within the university.

“Anyone who has an interest in developing their public speaking and debate skills should seriously consider joining the team, especially for people who are fearful of public speaking,” Carlton said. “I’ve personally found that my involvement in debate clubs throughout the years has significantly bolstered my presentation skills.”

Carlton said confidence while speaking can provide students with a professional advantage.

Although the team is unable to compete this semester due to a lack of funding and missing the American Mock Trial Association deadline, Nytes and Carlton said they have high hopes for what is to come.

My vision moving forward is to compete with schools through the American Mock Trial Association next year,” Nytes said. “Now it’s about building a team, getting everyone acquainted with how it runs and (preparing) myself because I’ve never been on a collegiate mock trial team.”

Nytes was not the only one surprised to find out Marquette did not have a mock trial team. Cecilia Dietzler, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she thought this was an organization the university lacked, but is not currently a part of the team.

“Mock trial was a big part of my life in high school and I was excited about expanding on and improving in (mock trial) before law school. I was shocked to hear that Marquette no longer had a team, as we have an excellent law program,” Dietzler said.

She said a mock trial team allows undergrad Pre-Law students to get valuable practice in a courtroom.

Until they are ready to compete next semester, Nytes said the executive board will collaborate to plan their agenda for the year. The team must especially work on formulating a plan for funding and weekly meetings, he said.

“As representatives of Marquette, I think it is our duty to put our best foot forward in every competition and leave everything on the field, so to speak,” Carlton said. “At the end of the day, every competitive team should see winning as the ultimate goal, especially one that represents Marquette.”