Franklin & Marshall College battled eleven elite Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland mock trial teams at the October 2023 Dickinson College Invitational from October 28-29. Representing F&M were two teams, ‘Cardinal’ and ‘Ruby,’ captained by Chhavi Mishra ‘25 and Rachel Rubins ‘24, respectively.
Reigning champion Juniata College had first pick on which team to challenge, selecting Franklin & Marshall’s team Cardinal. Neola Trainor ‘27 received unanimous praise for her witness testimony, scoring near-perfect nines on both ballots.
Team Ruby faced tournament host Dickinson College in the first round. An excellent showing for a freshman mock witness, Jacob Port ‘27 won 3rd place for his impressive testimony, scored by judge Jillian Copeland.
Team Cardinal faced Swarthmore College in the second round, with friendly overtures exchanged on both sides. After trial, members from both teams shook hands in recognition of an excellent performance.
The Swarthmore trial was dominated by oppressive heat spurred by Dickinson College’s lack of air conditioning in the building. The judges granted a special motion for participants to remove suit jackets and ties due to uncomfortable heat, nullifying the dress code for trial.
Nonetheless, Richie Dockery ‘27 and Morgan Hovan ‘24 put F&M’s strength on full display, each placing first place as witness and attorney.
“I was happy!” said Hovan. “I’m really proud of how we did, especially going against some of the best teams around.”
Gaining on their strong initial showing, team Ruby faced New Jersey City University (NJCU) in the second round. Team Ruby found their footing, with all members earning high marks.
Eddie Chisholm ‘27 earned praise for her strong emotional testimony, Rachel Rubins for her confident objections, and Owen Ryan ‘27 for quick-witted responses.
Jacob Port was additionally commended for his strong opening–though criticized for his admittedly “unnatural” side-stepping in court–which Port graciously reenacted, to the great amusement of team Cardinal.
“It was a strong showing for team Ruby and we’ll be improving for regionals. No side-stepping this time,” Port said.
Competing against Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the third round, team Cardinal won the judges’ ballot.
During the CMU trial, the Carnegie Mellon attorneys entered a ‘creeper’ mask into evidence, taken from the popular video game Minecraft. A heated objection battle erupted over the acoustics of the mask. CMU attorneys argued the mask was not ‘acoustic’ and therefore the witness couldn’t identify the voice of who was wearing the mask during a heist. Team Cardinal argued the opposite, contending the creeper mask was acoustic enough for the witness to identify the voice of the man behind the mask; judge Shawn Stottlemeyer sided with team Cardinal and the creeper mask was deemed sufficiently ‘acoustic’ for the purpose of witness testimony.
Morgan Hovan earned two perfect scores for her witness testimony from judges Shawn Stottlemeyer and Josh Wilbur. Hovan ranked as the top witness for the trial, edging out CMU’s Mathew Visco–who kept a perfectly straight face holding a creeper mask in court.
In the final round against Villanova University, all was going well for team Cardinal until attorney Richie Dockery had to make his closing remarks. Stuck in a non-air conditioned room for several hours without water and in a suit, Dockery suffered heatstroke.
Over the course of two 10 minute breaks, Dockery drank seven water bottles, graciously given by Dickinson volunteers and teammates Chhavi Mishra, and Neola Trainor.
Rising from his heatstroke, Dockery made a recovery and performed his closing remarks with no problems–except accidentally referring to reasonable doubt as “probable cause” before quickly correcting himself.
Dockery scored an 8/10 for his heatstroke-induced closing remarks.
Franklin & Marshall didn’t place at the Dickinson invitational, which was won by reigning champion Juniata College. F&M’s mock trial team makes its next appearance November 17-19 as the fight is taken to Stager Hall for F&M’s own tournament.
Mock Trial President Rachel Rubins, who co-captained at Dickinson, commented, “It means the world to me that everyone came to Dickinson during Halloweekend, and I’m glad it was a rewarding learning experience!”
Freshman Richie Dockery is a Staff Writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org