The University of New Mexico Mock Trial Team won the Air Force Invitational mock trials competition recently in Colorado Springs, Colo. Two teams of UNM students participated which included role-playing both prosecution and defense in a case regarding a former employee accused of robbing an amusement park.

UNM Mock Trial is a student run program in its third year. Laura Worden, Valeria Garcia, Markela Clinton and RaeAnn Cook were part of the 2013 team of 14 who prepared for one year for the trial. The team met twice weekly to focus on legal skills such as strategy and pouring over witness statements, affidavits and exhibits.

UNM’s A-team was the reigning champ. “It felt great to be undefeated,” said Clinton, a pre-law major and witness at the Invitational. UNM’s B-Team placed third. The UNM Mock Trial was also the recipient of the Spirit of American Mock Trial Association award. Winners of the award must exemplify AMTA’s ideals of civility, justice and fair play.

“It’s really a team sport,” Clinton said, because you have three lawyers and three witnesses participating in the trial.” Clinton hopes to study law at Loyola University Chicago after graduating.

Worden assembled the UNM Mock trial. She is a Political Science major who, after graduating in May 2014, plans to study law at Duke University.

The American Mock Trial Association sponsors regional and national mock trial competitions at the collegiate level. In addition to learning team-building skills, AMTA states that mock trials help students “develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as knowledge of legal practices and procedures.”