Some Central Michigan University students took a night off from studying to convict a murderer.
Members of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity held a mock murder trial in the Isabella County Courtroom Thursday evening in an effort to provide members with an authentic trial experience.
Bay City junior Kevin Kula, public relations chair for the fraternity, said the group typically holds a mock trial once a semester.
“First, we poll our members to see who would be interested (in participating) and in what positions,” he said. “Once we find who’s interested, the final selection is made.”
Kula said tenure within the fraternity and past experience in mock trials play a role in the selection process.
“We try to give everyone an opportunity to participate, especially our new or younger members,” he said. “I think this is a great opportunity for them to gain valuable experience in an actual courtroom.”
After the selection process, Ohio senior Andy Brockman and Northville junior Grayson Smith were chosen as the prosecuting attorneys, while Farmington Hills senior Michael Begovic and Chicago senior Shannon Hollenbeck where chosen as defense attorneys.
“I volunteered for this position because I wanted to engage in an opportunity to expand my experience,” Smith said. “I’d never done a mock murder trial like this before, and it was something new.”
New Baltimore senior Brandon Debus was in charge of organizing the event.
“Once the roles have been determined, it’s my responsibility to determine which case we will cover,” the native said. “This time, we selected a murder trial, but, in the past, we have also done civil court cases such as wrongful termination.”
Debus considered the mock trial a huge success, and said it served as a great example of the behaviors and procedures that might take place during an actual trial.
“I think, by far, it’s the most complex case we ever had,” he said. “Everyone did a great job preparing, and I’m very happy with the experience.”
Brockman said thorough preparation took place prior to the trial, such as reviewing the case file, constructing opening and closing statements and preparing for how witnesses would respond to their examination questions.
“The coolest part for me, personally, was being in an actual courtroom,” Hollenbeck said. “I think this experience will help prepare me for law school and what it’s like to be a lawyer.”
The honorable Judge William Ervin presided over the case and said all members did an exceptional job, and that it was as close to a real trial as one could get.