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Penn State Mock Trial to host upcoming invitational event for universities around the country

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Courtesy of Ashley Tarriff


The campus will be full of out-of-towners this weekend –– but this time, not for a football game.

Universities from all over the country are coming to campus to participate in the 6th Annual Happy Valley Invitational, which is an event hosted by Penn State University Mock Trial

“Mock Trials are one of the largest nationwide student activities,” Grant Keener, senior director of admissions at Dickinson School of Law said. “There are about 350 universities that participate, and collectively they field about 600 teams a year.”

The Happy Valley Invitational is a nonofficial event in which mock trial teams from multiple universities come to Penn State to compete in several different rounds of realistic court cases, Keener added.

“Each trial is between two teams representing two universities,” Keener said. “Each team takes a side — this year it’s a criminal case with one team serving as a prosecutor and one team serving as the defense.”

This event is composed of four rounds, each with 12 separate trials, Ashley Tarriff, president of Penn State Mock Trial said. Penn state has two teams, and will compete in eight of these trials, she added.

Penn State Mock Trial is one of the largest mock trial associations in the country, which gives them an edge when it comes to preparing for competitions, Tarriff said.

“We have 80 to 90 active members at any given time,” Tarriff said. “Because we’re so big that gives us the opportunity to compete against ourselves for practice.”

For the past two months, Penn State Mock Trial has been holding practice scrimmages between its own members in order to get them courtroom ready, she added.

“If you come up with a crazy idea for something and you want to try it — but aren’t sure it’s going to work — then you want to try it here at home,” Tariff said. “Almost like how football teams will practice a trick play against each other to see how it works.”

The organization is made up of mostly undergraduate students with a variety of majors — most notably those majoring in drama that can get enjoyment out of the theatrical nature of mock trials, Tariff said.

Student Kandaci Ausar said she thinks that developing a good relationship with other universities is beneficial for the school and looks forward to attending her first mock trial event this weekend.

“If we do well, it shows that Penn State is more than athletics,” Ausar (junior-film) said.

The university affiliation of each team competing is unknown to the judges, so those attending are discouraged from wearing collegiate apparel, Tarriff said.

The event will be held on Oct. 26 and 27 in the Business Building and Lewis Katz Building starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Sarah Caskie can be reached at (814) 865-1828.

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Courtesy of Ashley Tarriff