Cadet 2nd Class Clayton Schmitt, standing, listens to a judge's remarks during a mock trial at the Air Force Academy Oct. 17, 2010. Cadet Schmitt was part of the Academy's "New Kids on the Block" mock trial team, which also included, clockwise from bottom right: Cadets 3rd Class Jessica Norrington, Max Stanley and Brett Teague, Cadet 2nd Clsas Diana Bennett (seated behind Cadet Schmitt), Cadet 3rd Class Josh Williams and Cadet 4th Class Melanie Daugherty. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)
David Tomlinson emphasizes a choking hazard warning on a HappyLand Toys Co. box during a mock trial at the Air Force Academy Oct. 17, 2010. The HappyLand mock trial case involved a child who had died after choking on a small object contained in the box. Mr. Tomlinson is a student at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)
Kaitlin Barker argues a case before a judge during a mock trial at the Air Force Academy Oct. 17, 2010. Ms. Barker is a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)
10/21/2010 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- There were lawyers aplenty as a lawsuit against a toy company went to trial - repeatedly - at the Air Force Academy last weekend.
In the end, there were no jury verdicts and no damage awards, just awards and rounds of applause. Only school pride and personal accomplishment were at stake at the Academy's inaugural Thunderbird Invitational Mock Trial Tournament.
Twelve teams representing several universities tackled a fictitious case involving a toy manufacturer and a parent whose 2-year-old son died after eating beads made by the company. The boy's family was alleging liability and negligence per se on the part of the toymaker.
The tournament featured teams from the University of Houston, University of Redlands, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado State University and Drake University. Three teams from the Air Force Academy competed as well.
CSU won the tournament, and Academy teams took second and third places. In the role of an attorney, Cadet 2nd Class Carl Chandler earned a perfect score. Cadet 2nd Class Zac Crippen also excelled as an attorney and received an award. In addition, Cadet 2nd Class Aaron Zadalis won an award for outstanding witness.
Cadet Chandler also tied with Redlands' Melanie Fernandes as the top-scoring attorney. Ms. Fernandez was complimented from the bench for her work during the afternoon session Sunday.
Local attorneys acted as judges and provided feedback. The afternoon round Saturday pitted CU-Boulder against the "bye-buster" team, which consisted of students from assorted schools.
"You need to control the courtroom, but you can't do it yourself," said Sean Smith, the judge in that competition. "You need to ask the court to control the courtroom."
Mr. Smith said he thought the witnesses were excellent. The results bore that out. David Tomlinson, a UCCS student competing on the bye-buster team, achieved the second-highest score among witnesses.
Mr. Smith also covered proof analysis, telling the students to go point by point so they know which witnesses will furnish the necessary proof. That way, the attorneys can feel more certain of proving everything they set out to prove.
"You should have boiled your case down to a sentence or two," Mr. Smith said. "I want to know right up front why you should win. You want the witness to tell the story, not you as the attorney."