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Contact: Dr. Gene Straughan,
Professor, Social Sciences 208/792-2821 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mock Trial Team Offers Hands-on
Experience, Highlights Connection Between Justice Studies and Social Sciences
LEWISTON - Students in Lewis-Clark State's Mock Trial Program continued a streak of
stellar performances, placing 6th in January at the regional tournament in Ogden, Utah and
qualifying for the 2002 national competition in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Mock Trial Team has competed in tournaments since 1995, under the guidance of their
coach, Dr. Gene Straughan, a social science professor at the college. Straughan is proud
of their performance and the learning experience the students get. LC has the only Mock
Trial Program in the state and offers undergraduates a hands-on opportunity to learn about
the law, resolve legal problems and compete against other colleges and universities.
Dr. Staughan provided the following overview of the program:
In 1995, Lewis-Clark State became a member of the American Mock Trial Association in order
to provide undergraduates with hands-on opportunities to learn about the law and litigate
compelling legal conflicts. The college is one of only four institutions of higher
education in the Northwest to offer this academic experience to undergraduates.
Each year the American Mock Trial Association develops a criminal or civil case for use by
roughly three hundred universities and colleges who compete against one another on a
nationwide basis. Smaller institutions compete against larger ones because there are no
Cases consist of a fact scenario, witness affidavits, judicial decisions, statutory law,
and rules of evidence. Students are responsible for learning and presenting the
substantive (legal rights and duties) and procedural (legal processes and methods) issues
of the case within an atmosphere of a trial and intercollegiate competition.
Straughan says the LCSC Mock Trial Program is designed to provide a social-scientific
perspective of the law to students with diverse majors and backgrounds. "It is not
per se about creating more competent lawyers; the United States already has seventy
percent of the world's attorneys and is not experiencing a shortage. It is about better
understanding the American legal system," he said. He describes the mock trial
experience as a case study with the participants on the inside rather than the outside.
The students act and react as if they are genuine players of the legal system.
At the core of mock trial is the development of research, critical thinking, and public
speaking skills. Students are responsible for resolving a legal problem by developing,
testing and presenting a theory of the evidence within the context of opening statements,
direct examinations, cross examinations, and closing arguments. They learn how to
critically analyze data, construct theories, present findings, and evaluate outcomes.
Straughan says, "Each case teaches the students how to look through the liberal arts
lens of social science to discover empirical and normative solutions to human
The LCSC Mock trial program has enjoyed a number of successes since its inception in 1995.
Since then the team has competed at invitational, regional, and national tournaments.
Among the competitors LCSC has faced are: The Air Force Academy, University of Arizona,
Colorado State University, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, University
of Miami, Portland State University, University of Texas, Weber State University, and many
Following is a recap of previous tournament results:
1995 - 2nd Place
1996 - 2nd Place
1997 - 3rd Place
Invited but declined
1998 - 1st Place
with 2-6 record
1999 - 1st Place
with 4-4 record
2000 - 5th Place
Invited but declined
2001 - 4th Place
Most importantly, the mock trial students have enjoyed the opportunity to form friendships
and develop their critical thinking and communication skills. Each year the students
experience the dynamics of teamwork and collective problem solving. Mock trial alumni
describe their activities as a truly rewarding experience. LCSC is proud of them for their
collective success, intellectual energy, and competitive spirit.
The LCSC Mock Trial Program is open to any student and is designed to provide a liberal
arts understanding of the law and legal system. (For more information go to
www.lcsc.edu/gstraugh/ and www.collegemocktrial.org/.)
LCSC Mock Trial Program Alumni:
Dave Biery, received an MBA at Eastern Washington University.
Sara Brooks-Edmunds, employed as a paralegal at Medinex Legal
Department in Post Falls, Idaho.
Brian Erickson, works as a police officer at the Lewiston Police
Department and is pursuing further education.
Susan Ennis, works as a Child Advocate for the Nez Perce Tribe.
Jack Fuller, received an MA at the University of Idaho and is now
pursuing a JD at Michigan State University.
Sheri Glaseman, received her BS at Washington State University.
Doug Halstead, working as a probation officer for Latah County.
Stephanie Hague, received her JD/MBA at Gonzaga University.
Mandy M. Hessing, pursing her JD at the University of Idaho.
Jeb Huling, pursuing his BS in education/kinesiology at LCSC.
Gina Jerow-Johnson, pursuing a JD at the University of Montana.
Natalie Munn, works as a litigation paralegal for the law firm of
Myklebust, Savage, and Borwn in Pullman, Washington.
Sonyalee Nutsch, received her JD at the University of Idaho and is a
Deputy Prosecutor for Idaho's Nez Perce County.
Jim Palmer, received his JD at George Mason University and is an
attorney at a private law firm in Baltimore, Maryland.
Aynn Rands, employed as a legal secretary at a Boise law firm.
Rick Silcox, working as a probation officer in Phoenix, Arizona.
Sherri Sprutie, working as an assistant for Congressman Otter.
Sherri Heston-Stevens, pursing her JD at the University of Idaho.
Steven Wright, works as a manager at Hobson's Heating and Air.