2012 Mock Trial Competition FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Applicability of Errata Sheet (Posted 3-12-12)

Question: In light of the changes to the mock trial materials effective March 1, does the Errata Sheet and its confirmation that the insurance policy is considered to be in effect (No. 2, Exhibit J) still apply? The change to Noel E.R. Donovan's testimony is included in his "new" affidavit. However, we cannot seem to locate the "presumption" that the policy was renewed and in full force and effect at the time of the fire. It was not contained in the "new" stipulations and is not mentioned in Jesse Stewart's affidavit.

Answer: Yes, the Errata Sheet is still controlling on the issue of dates and the validity of the policy. It was not, at any time, the committee's intention to make a dispositive issue, such as a lapsed policy, part of the problem, as an issue like that would have likely caused the case to be disposed of via Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56 long before reaching trial.

Use of Summers' Testimony (Posted 3-8-12)

Question: New Stipulation 12 states that Stacy Summers' deposition testimony may be used to "cross-examine" witnesses. Is it supposed to read "examine" witnesses so that it may also be used on direct examination?

Answer: Team should assume that the deposition testimony can be used consistent with rules of evidence governing deposition testimony of an unavailable witness.

Deposition of Stacy Summers (Posted 3-8-12)

Question: In light of new Stipulation 12, are we to assume that the witnesses are familiar with the contents of Stacy Summers' deposition?

Answer: Teams should assume that the deposition testimony can be used consistent with rules of evidence governing deposition testimony of an unavailable witness.

Authenticity of Lease (Posted 3-8-12)

Question: Is there intended to be an ambiguity about whether the lease included as an exhibit is the lease prepared by Alex Nosferatu? The other exhibits have stipulations that eliminate any ambiguity so that a witness cannot disavow knowledge of the exhibit, but there is no such stipualation about the lease, which would allow Nosferatu to testify it's not the lease he prepared for Stewart.

Answer: Teams should presume that the problem is drafted intentionally to include or omit evidence or testimony. However, as to the exhibits, Stipulation 11 provides a blanket provision that all exhibits are authentic and accurate in all respects and that no objections as to the authenticity of exhibits may be made.

Date on Burns' Report (Posted 3-8-12)

Question: While the revisions corrected the date in the witness statements, the date was not corrected in Andy Burns' report. Since the FAQ says that the error was corrected in the new materials, it could be argued that it was intended to remain in Burns' report and thus be used to show a mistake he made. Is this a correct interpretation?

Answer: Teams should presume that the problem is drafted intentionally to include or omit evidence or testimony.

Gender References (Posted 3-6-12)

Clarification: Despite use of the male pronoun in reference to characters in the version of the problem released on March 1, teams are advised that any witness may be played by either gender.

Use of Summers' Deposition (Posted 3-6-12)

Question: New Stipulation 12 reads, "Stacy Summers' deposition testimony may be used to cross-examine witnesses." By "deposition testimony," does it mean Summers' affidavit? If so, does this mean that other witnesses are therefore stipulated to have knowledge of Summers' affidavit and may be impeached using the affidavit? Or, does "deposition testimony" mean the interview conducted between Summers and Yagmur Merteuil? If so, does that mean witnesses other than Merteuil have knowledge of the interview and may be impeached using the interview?

Answer: Stacey Summer's deposition is considered the statement that are provided in the materials as opposed to the transcribed interview contained in the problem exhibits.  Stipulation 12 applies to the use of the former, not the latter.

Date of Fire (Posted 1-31-12)

Question: The materials say that the fire occurred on Friday, June 15, 2011; however, June 15, 2011 was a Wednesday. Is that a problem?

Answer: This is a typographical error. The problem should state Friday, June 17. A new version of the problem was released on March 1, which corrects this error. Download the revised problem here.

Illustrative Aids and Exhibits (Posted 1-25-12)

Question: Mock Trial Rule 19 provides in pertinent part "No illustrative aids of any kind may be used, unless provided in the case packet. Pointers, markers, etc. are not 'illustrative aids.'" Stipulation 10 states, "No props may be used. Teams may use markers, pens, pointers, or sticky notes to assist in the presentation of witness testimony concerning an exhibit." Since markers can be used, is it permissible for a student attorney to mark, write or draw on a white board while delivering opening or closing? Also, is it permissible for a student attorney to mark, write or draw on an exhibit while delivering closing?

Answer: In answering this question, it is important to differentiate between "illustrative aids" and exhibits. A white board would be an illustrative aid, and, thus, would not be allowed.

As far as exhibits are concerned, they should not be introduced in opening. If, during closing, the attorneys wish to mark upon an admitted exhibit for demonstrative purposes, then a decision on that would fall under the discretion of the presiding judge of the round.

Rules of Evidence 1002 & 1004 (Posted 1-19-12)

Question:Why were Rules of Evidence 1002 and 1004 not included in the Rules of the 2012 Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition?

Answer: The omission of Rules of Evidence 1002 and 1004 was intentional. In the context of the mock trial universe, students are already bound to the exhibits, and the authenticity of these exhibits has already been stipulated. Evidentiary objections based on Tenn. R. Evid. 1002 are not appropriate for the mock trial competition, as the original of any document is not obtainable by the teams. Moreover, the stipulations and attendant rules make arguments based on Tenn. R. Evid. 1004 superfluous.

It is the intent of the committee not to have students engage in argument over whether a document is an original, or whether a duplicate may be used in light of the four instances contemplated by 1004. All exhibits, by rule, are authentic, and students may not create new or altered exhibits for use in the competition.

Use of a Particular Witness or Piece of Evidence (Posted 1-5-12)

Question:I do not understand the expected use or benefit of a witness or of a particular item of evidence. Can the committee explain how teams are supposed to use a certain witness and/or certain piece of evidence?

Answer: The problem was intentionally crafted with character complexities meant to challenge participants. While the committee has set the parameters for the substance and form of the program, it is up to each team to develop its own strategy for the execution of the materials. Thus, the committee cannot offer any guidance on specific approaches.

Necessity of Outside Research (Posted 12-20-11)

Question:How much outside research and reading is necessary or allowed to effectively participate in the mock trial competition? For example, should students research fire investigation or accounting practices -- outside of the information contained in the problem -- to be able to speak intelligently about these subjects on the stand?

Answer: Students are permitted to put as much research into the problem as they want and as their advisors and coaches deem practical, however, the Mock Trial Committee does not expect students to become "fire loss experts" in order to effectively compete. Also note that Mock Trial Rule 3 stipulates that witnesses are bound by their statements. Thus, it would be improper for a student to research a particular issue, create an opinion contrary to the witness they are playing, and articulate that opinion on the stand.

That said, it is perfectly appropriate, pursuant to Rules 3 and 4, to fairly extrapolate information from the materials. However, participants should be cognizant that, on cross-examination, witnesses are permitted to respond "I don't know" to questions that contemplate information not contained in the materials (see Rule 4). How effective a technique that is in cross-examination is left to each team to weigh.

Punctuation in Donovan Statement (Posted 12-15-11)

Question:There is some confusing punctuation in the statement of Noel E.R. Donovan, found in the last two sentences of the fifth paragraph. Can you clarify?

Answer: The last two sentences of the fifth full paragraph of Noel E.R. Donovan's statement contain incorrect and potentially confusing punctuation. The sentences should read:

"Since the AAA CPA report assumed a cash accounting basis, I did the same, although it is true that had Denim N' More used an accrual accounting basis, my figures for valuing the business could have been higher because I would have included the full value of any unpaid accounts."

Download the committee's official errata sheet that addresses this issue.

Use of "defiantly" in Whineshack Statement (Posted 12-12-11)

Question:In Jamie Whineshack's statement (page 28, fourth full paragraph, seventh line), the problem reads: "I don't know exactly what, but they defiantly had a different relationship than Stewart and I had that's for sure." I suppose the word "defiantly" could fit, but did the authors mean to use the word "definitely" instead?

Answer: In light of the fact that "defiantly" is not incorrect in the context in which it is being used, and since it unlikely will impact the way the case plays out, the Mock Trial Committee will embrace the word choice.

Dates on Insurance Policy (Updated 12-15-11)

Question:The insurance policy (Exhibit J) shows the policy period as running from 01-30-2010 to 01-30-2011. The date of the incident is subsequent to this period. This would seem to make the whole case irrelevant. Is this intentional or a mistake?

Answer: It is not the intention of the Mock Trial Committee to create a dispositive issue that would exist with a lapsed insurance policy. To this end, the insurance policy shall be considered to have been in effect at the time of the fire. While a replacement insurance contract WILL NOT issued by the committee, participants must presume that the policy was renewed and in full force and effect at the time of the fire (June 15-16, 2011). Download the committee's official errata sheet that addresses this issue.

Lack of Pleadings (Posted 12-12-11)

Question:In reviewing this year's problem neither the complaint nor the answer were included. Shouldn't these be part of the materials?

Answer: There is precedent in past mock trial problems for both the inclusion and exclusion of a Complaint and Answer. The Mock Trial Committee believes that pleadings such as these are not necessary to the effective and authentic execution of the problem. Indeed, including pleadings would require a simplification of their respective content, which could lead participants astray of what would likely be pled were this real litigation. It is the committee's belief that the applicable law, included in the materials, provides an adequate legal framework for the presentation of the facts of the case.