Bellarmine mock trial enters regional tournament with grounds for optimism

February 19, 2019

MockTrial-with-PresidentThe mock trial team celebrates a recent tournament win with Dr. Susan M. Donovan (left), Bellarmine's president
Ahead of their participation in a regional tournament that they’re hosting in Louisville this weekend, Bellarmine University’s Mock Trial team is reflecting on their recent success and their 30-plus year tradition of excellence.
The team’s president, Andrew Chandler -– a senior economics and political science double major from Louisville -– said that a commitment to empowering students with skills for advocacy and critical thinking is a cornerstone of the program.
Andrew Chandler won an outstanding attorney award at a recent tournament
“Mock Trial has ignited a passion for advocacy in me, which I strongly believe has influenced my Bellarmine experience for the better,” said Chandler, who is in Bellarmine’s pre-law program. “Having the tools to think critically and argue a given stance are extremely valuable assets for the caliber of students that Bellarmine brings out into the world. Our program fosters those tools in each student who participates, and we couldn’t be prouder of those who have grown in their Bellarmine experience through their participation in the program.”
The regional tournament – one of 28 taking place around the nation this month – will be held at the Jefferson County Hall of Justice from Friday through Sunday, with 22 college teams participating. Seven winners will advance to the opening round of the national championships next month.
The ultimate goal is to qualify for April’s American Mock Trial Association national championship tournament in Philadelphia. A team from Bellarmine won the national championship 20 years ago.
The regional tournament is free and open to the public. Although Bellarmine is hosting, spectators may not wear school-affiliated apparel in the courtroom, to protect against biased judging. 
“The team has been overwhelmed by the wonderful, encouraging support from the administration and our peers on campus,” said Chandler. "We would really like to convey our deepest appreciation for all those who have congratulated us on our recent success, and we look forward to bringing home more trophies and recognition!”
Bellarmine enters the regional competition after a first-place finish at a mock trial tournament hosted by Columbia College and the University of Missouri last month. They won seven of the eight judge’s ballots. Chandler received an outstanding attorney award after being ranked as a top attorney by participating judges.
In mock trial competitions, judges maintain scorecards for each aspect of the trial, including the opening statement and direct testimony from witnesses. Each team is rated on a scale from 1 to 10.
This year’s team has nine members. Their head coach is attorney Thad Keal, along with three assistant coaches who are attorneys -- Jim Wagoner, Teresa Kinberger and Michelle Chalmers -- plus a fourth, Shamir Patel, who is an alumnus of the mock trial team. Dr. Richard Brown is the team’s faculty advisor. 
“It is very satisfying to see these talented students begin to tap their potential and dedicate their time, energy and passion to this very challenging and intellectually stimulating endeavor,” said Keal. “Our students are carrying on Bellarmine’s reputation, dating to the mid-1980s, as a national powerhouse in intercollegiate mock trial, competing against schools large and small, public and private, from across the U.S.”
Article by Molly Jett, intern in Bellarmine's Office of Marketing and Communication.

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