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Legal Studies to Host National Mock Trial Tournament This Week

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By Karen Guin

Excitement is mounting for dozens of college students from across the country as they descend on Orlando this week for the American Mock Trial Association's 2014 National Championship Tournament.

They're heading to Orlando because the University of Central Florida is hosting the competition.

UCF will host the national tournament April 11-13 at the Orange County Courthouse. The event will bring together the nation's top undergraduate mock trial teams to compete in a simulated trial. Families of participating students may attend.

"Forty-eight teams have earned a bid to compete," said Margarita Koblasz, the tournament coordinator and a faculty member in UCF's Department of Legal Studies. "That's down from 549 teams that began the road to nationals in February."

A series of regional and open-round champion tournaments whittled down the competition to the top 48 teams, she added. UCF's team placed first runner-up.

"Students put in an enormous amount of time preparing for and competing in these tournaments," said legal studies' Chair James Beckman. "They develop critical thinking, public speaking and leadership skills that will serve them the rest of their lives."

At this week's tournament, pairs of teams will be pitted against each other in a series of matches. One team will serve as the prosecution and the other as the defense. They'll try a fictitious case involving a robbery, chase and death at an amusement park.

Nearly 190 real-life attorneys and judges from the region have volunteered to serve as judges. "The support of Central Florida's legal community is invaluable," Koblasz said.

The two top teams will compete in a final match at 5 p.m. on April 13.

UCF earned the coveted honor of hosting the national tournament because of its reputation for hosting such excellent regional tournaments, according to Beckman.

"Under Margarita's leadership, UCF has set the standard," Beckman said. "It's certain to be a terrific event."

Note: The tournament is open to students and their families but not to the general public. However, local television station WKMG will provide live streaming of the final round, and Phipps Reporting will provide live streaming of a transcript. To view the live streams, visit www.trialteamucf.com/final-championship-round.html. For the complete tournament schedule, visit www.trialteamucf.com/national-championship-tournament.html.

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