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Left to right: Guy Webb, Zachary Pitts, James Harry, Austin Kelly, Alex Pierce, Birana Leatherberry, Allison Weber, Robert Swaby
Manchester University’s Mock Trial team advances to opening rounds of the Championship Series Tournament after capturing sixth place at regional competition Feb. 22-23 at University of Notre Dame.
MU senior Alex Pierce was Outstanding Witness at the South Bend regional with a near-perfect score (19/20) for his performance as the person who plays the mascot of RacheterWorld amusement park, the scene of an alleged robbery.
Manchester’s 6-2 record last weekend earned the team its first trip to the Opening Round Championship Series since 2003. A total of 26 teams competed, from 19 colleges and universities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Iowa. The tournament is sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association.
This is Manchester’s 25th year of intercollegiate competition in the American Mock Trial Association.
MU team members are: seniors James Harry, economics major from Decatur, Ind.; Alexander Pierce, senior history and economics major from Decatur, Ind.; Zachary Pitts, criminal justice major from North Judson, Ind., and Robert Swaby, sociology and criminal justice major from Vernon Hills, Ill.; sophomores Gaius “Guy” Webb, political science major from Greenwood, Ind., and Allison Weber, chemistry major from Rossville, Ind.; first-year students Austin Kelly, political science major from Columbia City, Ind., and Briana Leatherberry, biology-chemistry major from Hammond, Ind.
“I am extremely impressed by the team’s ambition, discipline, heart and dedication,” said team advisor Leonard Williams, professor of political science. “Everyone – each individual – made a commitment to perform at a peak level.”
In a nutshell, the mock trial teams are arguing a criminal case of robbery in an amusement park, State of Midlands v. Whit Bowman. During a chase of the suspect, a security guard was hit by the front car of the Tunnel of Terror ride. He remains in a coma. The robber remains at large. Police arrested and charged a park employee with participation the robbery and related criminal activities.
Professor Williams said the team is grateful for the attorneys who helped prepare the MU team by observing practice trials. “Their gifts of time and expertise are much appreciated.” Attorneys, many of them Manchester graduates, helping the MU team: Paul Billingsley ’10; Randy Brown ’79, Blake Hike ’06 and Steve Fawcett. MU’s attorney coach is Steve Case ’05.
More than 600 mock trial teams from 350 universities and colleges across the country compete. The top teams from each regional advance to the 192-team Opening Round Championship Series. The top six teams from each of the eight Opening Round tournaments advance to the National Championship Tournament on April 11-13 in Orlando, Fla.