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K-State Today

February 3, 2012

Order in the court: Mock trial club organizes first public trial for Saturday

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Expect no objections to the motion from the Kansas State University Mock Trial Club to hold its first mock trial before a public audience.

The demonstration runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 4, in Courtroom 202 of the Riley County Courthouse, 100 Courthouse Plaza, Manhattan. It is free and open to the public. If the turnout is large enough, audience members may be chosen for a 12-person jury to decide the verdict.

"A mock trial works exactly like a real trial," said Bondy Kaye-Valdovinos, president of the K-State Mock Trial Club and a junior in psychology, Topeka. "Students portray attorneys and witnesses and act out an entire trial, beginning with opening statements, followed by direct and cross examination of witnesses and ending with closing arguments. Students object, enter in evidence and argue their case in strict accordance with a modified version of the federal rules of evidence."

Saturday's case will center on a young woman's death by a friend who was driving drunk. The woman also happens to be the daughter of a well-known prosecutor.

Riley County Magistrate Judge Sheila Hochhauser will preside over the case.

"It's not unheard of for a real judge to preside a mock trial, though it is somewhat rare," Kaye-Valdovinos said. "Judge Hochhauser is doing the team a tremendous honor presiding over this event."

Saturday's trial serves as preparation for the American Mock Trial Association's regional tournament, which begins Feb. 11 in Topeka.

This is the third year the K-State Mock Trial Club has been active. The club has 12 competitors, nine of whom joined the spring 2011 semester.

The team is coached by Benjamin Long, attorney at law for Schlagel Kinzer LLC in Olathe; Britain Stites, attorney at law for the Junction City public defender's office; and Nikki Marcotte, legal secretary for Oleen Law Firm in Manhattan and 2011 K-State graduate and former member of the team.

"I have full faith in the team giving an excellent performance that is both interesting and entertaining," Kaye-Valdovinos said. "This is very exciting for us and regardless of the turnout, this will be a monumental event for K-State Mock Trial."