Mari Boyle and Rachel Tunney win 1L Mock Trial Competition

March 28, 2019

CARLISLE, Pa. — First-year law students Mari Boyle and Rachel Tunney earned the win at Penn State Dickinson Law’s 1L mock trial competition on March 22, 2019 in the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, Lewis Katz Hall, Dickinson Law.

Co-organized by Sean Kraus and Rebecca Marsnik — third-year Dickinson Law students and National Trial Team members — the event provides first-year law students an opportunity to practice their advocacy skills during their second semester.

“There is no reason not to participate in this competition,” said Marsnik. “It allows you to learn your own advocacy style and start to figure out the mechanics of the courtroom in a low-stakes environment. Participants can put as much or as little work into it as they want, and no matter what, they get a lot out of it. It can be more beneficial and less stressful to get feedback from their peers who have recently participated in mock trial competitions than from professors or attorneys. Since everyone is on the same level, this truly is a chance to learn a lot while having fun.”

At the end of the preliminary rounds, Kraus and Marsnik invited the highest-scoring prosecution and defense teams to advance to the championship round, which was presided over by the Hon. Albert H. Masland of the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas. As the highest-scoring defense team, Boyle and Tunney competed against Bre Bennett and Emily Kortright — the highest-scoring prosecution team. Both teams delivered moving and powerful arguments and examinations for their relative sides.

Tunney shared that both her and Boyle benefited from volunteering as witnesses for the Mock Trial Team earlier this year.

“This helped us to understand procedurally how to create our case," said Tunney. "Once the problem dropped, we first prepared our theory for the case and prepped the witnesses according to that theory. They were wonderful at adapting and sticking to that story — even during their cross-examinations. After knowing our theory, we began studying the rules of evidence, and we tried to figure out what was most relevant to the case presented. Then, it was simply practice, practice, practice.”

Tunney said her biggest takeaway from the competition was the opportunity to learn how to stand on her own two feet and present her argument.

“In class, if your argument has issues, your professor or another classmate can help," she said. "In a trial, if your argument has issues, you lose, and testimony gets admitted that can harm your client.”

Boyle said she would recommend participation to all first-year law students.

“Even for those that don’t think they want to do litigation or trial work, this is a great event to participate in with your peers, as well as a great way to get more public speaking experience and develop a case on your own," she said.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 28, 2019