Our school’s mock trial competition got over a few weeks ago. For those who don’t know, it’s set up like a real court case, where your teammates play either attorney or witness roles. While in the competitions, you play one side of the case, either prosecution or defense, while your opponent argues the other side. It may not be just like law and order, but it’s similar. As an attorney you may have to do an opening or a closing. These are speeches at the beginning (opening) or the end (closing). The opening is about 4 minutes, while the closing is 6-8. You write them yourself. As follows is my opening from this year. I tie in our “theme” with how the events of the case occurred. Please don't read all of this, unless you find law mildly interesting as I do. This piece is merely an example of the work put into this competition, because this was, at one point, all memorized:
May it please the court? Opposing Counsel?
A large portion of this case, your honor, deals with evidence. However, a large portion of this evidence is not credible because, as the defense will show, the prosecution’s witnesses have been tampering with the past.
Hollis Price is a professor of history at Missouri Valley University, and she has been for the past 17 years. Price has spent a large amount of time dedicated to the Lewis and Clark expedition and Thomas Jefferson, and has compiled all of her research into a book that has recently been published.
Taylor Lane, the prosecution’s witness, also works in the Missouri Valley history department. He/She is not known for a single historical forte like Miss Price is. Lane writes about what the academic community considers to be outrageously inappropriate topics which often involve historical scandals. Lane once wrote that Dolly Madison had converted a wing of the white house into a brothel to fund the war effort, and that one of Dolly’s “girls” had been smoking in bed and caused the white house fire of 1812. Lane is known around the Missouri Valley University campus for similar attention-seeking acts. Sometime before this incident, Lane obtained supposed copies of the Lewis and Clark journals, which caused tension between Lane and Price. These journals were given to Lane by two of Lane’s fans. They attacked the reputation of Thomas Jefferson and of Lewis. Professor Price has recently written a book on these topics, so she requested to have the documents analyzed for authenticity. Lane refused to give her the originals, and she/he ended up changing the documents and then giving them to Professor Price for analysis.
On September 8th, 2007, Taylor was knocked unconscious in his/her home and the Lewis and Clark journals were stolen. Miss Price was at home that night, grading papers and revising one of her articles. Her phone and internet records show her at her house.
My client, Hollis Price, is wrongfully accused of three crimes: Burglary, Assault, and possession of burglar’s tools. The prosecution has the burden of proof, your honor. They must prove these three counts beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to find Hollis Price guilty.
Our first witness is Mason Drake. She has a long history in crime scene investigation and analysis. She currently is a detective from a private investigation firm, “Not Guilty, Inc.” She was sent to re-examine the crime scene after the prosecution’s witness Bailey Dobbins had investigated. Through her examination, Drake determined that Bailey Dobbins’s investigation lacked in several ways.
Dobbins claimed to have found four fresh footprints at the crime scene, but only reported three. This was because he/she had inadvertently tampered with the scene. The fourth set of footprints was actually Dobbins’s own footprints. In his/her sloppy procedure, Drake found that she didn’t even secure the crime scene.
Also, Drake found that the fingerprints found in Lane’s office “may or may not” have been a match for Hollis Price. The national academy of forensic experts states that at least four of the five prints on anyone must be a good match before a positive ID can be made. Dobbins only provided partial prints, and their quality and number are insufficient to ID anyone. Drake proves that all of the prosecutions forensic evidence has been tampered with by an unprofessional police officer.
Our second witness will be Ashton Millbanks. He is a member of the history department at Sergeant Floyd College, and he specializes in forensic history and forensic anthropology. He compared Lane’s journals to an actual journal written by Lewis from the University of Missouri. He found that the two journals were written by entirely different people. The journals were a professional forgery; they were an attempt by Lane to tamper with the past.
Our last witness is Miss Price herself. She will explain more about the evidence that the prosecution found about her, in her own words. Her footprints were found at the scene, but she will explain that they’re there because Lane had a party the night before the break in, and that Price attended the party. She will also explain how she just wasn’t there. That night, Price was at home in the company of her Newfoundland, grading papers and revising one of her articles. Lastly, she will follow up saying that she had absolutely no motive to steal these journals. She knew that they were fakes and had been tampered with. She knew that because of this, they couldn’t harm her reputation or her book. And she knew that she no reason to break into Lane’s house to get them.
Your honor, the prosecution has the burden of proof in this case. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Professor Price is guilty of these crimes. As you will see, the past has been tampered with, and what we are left with is only doubt. Thank you.