Your Honor, how does it work? – Anonymous
Structure: General Overview
Each August, AMTA releases a new, fictional case (alternating yearly between criminal and civil matters), containing a summary of the incident in question, affidavits of witnesses explaining different facets of the case, exhibits to support the witness affidavits, and relevant case law. The team begins work on the case in September, developing a case theory for both the prosecution / plaintiff and defense sides of the case.
The team competes against several other colleges, including Harvard, Yale, and NYU, at several tournaments over the course of the year, where students play the roles of attorneys and witnesses in the format of a real trial. Though it is similar to acting, a good team is distinguished by their ability to think and respond quickly on its feet as things occur during trials. The mark of a good team is their ability to respond to the trial at hand and alter their case theory to win over the judges and win the trial.
During trial, actual attorneys and judges will watch the round and score witnesses for their ability to portray their characters effectively and attorneys for their ability to respond to objections, rulings and the answers of both their own witnesses and those of other teams. During Regionals, these scores determine qualify teams to compete either at the National Tournament (Silver) or the National Championship Tournament (Gold).
For a summary of past cases, please see some sample cases.
For a more in-depth description of the roles of attorneys and witnesses, click here.