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reed magazine logoSpring 2008

A Future Powerhouse

How Reedís mock trial team made it to nationals

The world of mock trial competitions is a lot like the world of competitive sports. Large, well-funded universities field large, well-funded teams. There’s a difference, of course, between winning trials and stealing bases, but mock trial programs and college baseball share a word for teams that consistently rise to the top: powerhouses.

Reed College does not have powerhouses. Not in baseball, for which we have no team, and not in mock trials, for which our team might be considered the anti-powerhouse. After all, Reed’s coach for its mock trial program is a volunteer. Few people on campus know the team exists. Even fewer know that in just its second year, the unlikely Reed mock trial team made it all the way to the national tournament in Tucson, Arizona, in March, where it placed 15th in a field of 26.

That may not seem like a strong showing, but Reed’s coach, Marc Johnson, points out that Reed’s team matched wits with some of the best teams in the country before lunchtime. Team member Damon Maxwell ’11 received two awards for strong performance on the witness stand. Maxwell won a similar award at the regional qualifying tournament in February, where Reed won its bid to go to nationals after winning three of four rounds.

Johnson, an insurance attorney at the Prange Law Group who did mock trial all through college, recommends the experience for any student considering a career in law. “I probably learned more in one year of mock trial than in evidence law,” says Johnson.

Though not every team member is ready to admit deep-seated desires to practice law, Veronika Sykorova ’11 is “definitely planning on law school.” Sykorova joined the team after spotting a flyer on campus. She likes the competition, the cross-examination, and the nervousness associated with the courtroom. But mock trial, she says, “is also a different way of thinking…it teaches you how to appeal to people’s emotions and bring out facts people don’t want to talk about.”

The prospects look good for Reed’s small team. Three of the four members are freshman. The fourth, team captain Jennifer Snelling ’09, is a junior. All four will be back in the fall, along with Johnson.

—Brian Radzinsky ’09

reed magazine logoSpring 2008