From the State Mock Trial Office on 9/2:
Last week, the HSMT Committee made the decision to move the 2021 Mock Trial season to a virtual format. It is impossible to know what everything will look like January 30 and for planning purposes, both for teams and competition organization, we felt it best to go ahead and make the change so everyone knows what to expect.
Competing in a courtroom in front of a live judge and jury is an important part of the mock trial experience and we will miss that opportunity this season. However, a virtual season presents some very unique opportunities to the competition that we would otherwise not have. So, we are taking this change as an exciting chance to do something different in a one-off year and see how it goes.
The Big Picture
The season will operate as a state-wide season tournament, with three phases. This season will not have the traditional Region and District structure. Ultimately, the number of teams will be reduced twice, with the final grouping going through a bracket-style tournament for the state championship.
In Phase 1, all registered teams will compete in four rounds, presenting both sides of the case twice. These four rounds will be randomly drawn prior to Round 1 and teams can be matched against any other team in the state. This means that teams have a high likelihood of playing teams they have never seen before, from a four different Regions.
Phase 1 will take place over the course of 3-4 weeks in February, starting on January 30. Matches will be scheduled on weeknights and weekends. Weeknight matches will start around 6:30. Saturdays will have two trial periods in the morning and afternoon. Sundays will have an afternoon trial period. Teams will receive their match schedule (dates only, not opponent nor side) in early January. Prior to creating the schedule, teams will have an opportunity to provide limited preferences to the Mock Trial office (details on that will come out soon, so please don’t start sending us requests/demands/ultimatums!).
Round 1 will be randomly matched by drawing two team codes from a pile, with one being plaintiff and the other defense. Round 2 will be drawn by matching one plaintiff team vs. one defense team from Round 1, switching both teams’ sides. Rounds 3 and 4 will repeat the process.
Why random draw and not power matching?
With potentially 120-130 teams competing, that equals 60-65 trials per round over 5-7 days. We would have to wait until the last trial is done before power matching and then announce the next round pairings to take place the next day. Giving sufficient time would lengthen the schedule too much.
Based on the cumulative record of all teams from Phase 1, the top teams* will advance to Phase 2 with all teams competing in two rounds. Each team will present both sides of the case.
* This cutoff line is still being determined and will be announced at a later date.
The top 32 teams will be seeded into four groups of eight teams each. Seedings will be determined by final ranking after Phase 2, taking a cumulative record of all six rounds. The top four teams will be a #1 seed, the next four will be #2 seed, etc. Placement of each seeded team will be randomly drawn to complete the bracket.
Each Round will be a knockout round with the winner moving on to the next step, ultimately advancing two teams the Final Round for the State Championship. Phase 3 will take place in mid-March, with the State Champion Round scheduled for March 20 or 21.
Ideally, each team will be able to gather at one location for their trial. The team’s courtroom will need to be set up in a specific way; details about the setup will come from the Mock Trial office later this year. This prescribed setup will all teams to compete with a minimum of technology requirements and be able to see the other team and the judging panel. Each team will need:
- two desktop/laptop computers with cameras (either integrated in the laptop or a separate webcam)
- two Zoom accounts (can be their free ones),
- internet connection,
- and space for the courtroom (media center, cafeteria, classroom, conference room, etc.).
More details, instructions, answers, guidance, diagrams, etc. will be forthcoming, so please don’t start to panic or demand answers. Please do start making a list of your questions and wait until we release the formal guidance to see what is answered.
The Big Caveat
Things are constantly changing. Some of the details of the competition aren’t fully fleshed out; they will be soon. The details above are where we stand right now with the season and we are committed to the general structure described. Any changes made should only apply to the application of the plan and affect small portions. It is my goal to have a much more complete, firm plan in place for the release of the Coaches’ Manual October 1. As such, please do not take the above outline as what “will happen” but more of a guide of what to expect and where the season is headed.