For the second time in Ohio State’s history, a mock trial team is set to compete in hopes of qualifying for the national title. The team, though, didn’t receive enough university-organization funding to cover the costs of travel.
The competition, held Friday to Sunday in Orlando, Fla., and sponsored by University of Central Florida, is set to be held at the Orlando Courthouse.
Ten team members will be competing against other teams for a spot for the championship, team captain Chris Nolfi, a fourth-year in film studies, said.
“This is the big show. This is what everyone has been working for throughout the year. This is where we have been trying to get,” Nolfi said.
The mock trial team faced some issues in gathering funding – the team sought $1,500 in funding for its trip from OSU Undergraduate Student Government, but only received $500.
The team appealed the decision, but was denied.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, definitely, but I kind of understand where USG is coming from,” Nolfi said. “There are so many organizations, and we have gotten along with them fairly throughout the earlier part of the season, and it was just one of those things where they had budget restrictions and there is only so much they can do.”
Despite not getting funding from USG, Nolfi said they were given $5,000 in additional support from the political science department.
The team also had a Go Fund Me website page, where it raised about $2,600 out of its set $5,000 goal.
With a total of 48 schools competing and 24 schools in OSU’s division, Nolfi said OSU’s mock trial team is set to face three schools for a chance to compete in the championship.
“We have been preparing a lot more for (the national’s competition) just because of the caliber of teams that we are going to be facing,” Nolfi said.
Some of the other teams competing include Harvard University, Princeton University and University of Virginia.
The mock trial team was given a fictional case by the American Mock Trial Association in August, which was the State of Midlands vs. Whit Bowman, said Jessie Sun, a third-year in psychology.
Preparing throughout the academic year, each team member was given a role on either the prosecution or defendant side, Nolfi said.
Nolfi, who will be acting as a witness in the case, which involves a robbery in an amusement park, said each team member will play a different role.
Michael Morris, a second-year in political science and economics, said he is set to give the opening statements for defense competition.
“My job as the opening defense attorney is to try and take the facts and bend them in a way that makes it look like the defendant is innocent,” Morris said.
Nolfi said the team met three to four times a week, and practiced up to five hours each time in order to prepare for the competition.
Sun credits coach Alex Bluebond for the team’s success. Bluebond is a current lawyer and former student at Miami University (Ohio), who also coached Duke University’s mock trial team while attending law school.
Through his coaching experience, Bluebond said he has taught the team the importance of presentation.
“Often people focus on the substance of what they’re saying and forget that how you say it is just as, if not more, important,” Bluebond said.
Bluebond said some of the skills he taught the team included the ability to present and project their arguments in an organized manner while not giving the impression they’re yelling.
Nolfi said the team is like a sports team in some regards.
“As far as time commitment and as far as preparation and competition, it’s about the closest thing you can get to an actual physical sport, in terms of academics,” Nolfi said.