Nuckolls Count Courthouse, Nelson, Nebraska. Classical revival style architecture, 1890
A proficient clerk is critical to the success of a trial and points are given on their performance.
The Clerk is usually provided by the prosecution/plaintiff.
This is an ideal role for someone who wants to be a part of the team but does not have a lot of time to devote. Perhaps they want to observe Mock Trial to decide whether they want to take on more responsibility next year.
- When the judge arrives in the courtroom introduce themselves and explain that you will assist as the court clerk.
- Use the roster form in the Mock Trial packet.
- Bring a roster of the team’s students and their roles to each trial round
- Have enough copies to be able to give a roster to each judge in every round as well as a few extras
- Obtain rosters from the other side and give them to the judges also
- Competition Rules:
- Bringing a copy of the “Rules of Competition.”
- If questions arise and the judge needs clarification, provide this copy to the judge
- Swear in the witnesses:
- Every witness should be sworn in
- Walk over to the witness stand, have the witness raise their right hand, and administer the oath
- In Oregon the oath administered is: “Do you promise that the testimony you are about to give will faithfully and truthfully conform the facts and rules of the Mock Trial Competition?”
- Witness responds, “I do.”
- Clerk then says, “Please be seated and state your name for the court and spell your last name”
- Manage Exhibits:
- Both sides should have their own exhibits, however, a well-prepared clerk has spares
- Identify the exhibit before the attorney shows it to the witness
- Retrieve and assume responsibility for the exhibit from the witness after they have testified (whether or not it was admitted)
- Any time an attorney wants to use the exhibit after that, they need to get it from the clerk
- Optional: Keep a record of what exhibits are admitted in case the judge asks
- Takes the judge’s ballots to the coordinator’s office once a decision is made.
Suggestions to Improve Performance
- Dress and conduct oneself as an officer of the court
- Be efficient and enunciate clearly
- Promptly retrieve exhibits from the witness stand after each witness
- The Clerk is in charge of the exhibits in a regular trial and prevents the witnesses and the attorneys from running off with them
- Raise your right hand at a 90 degree angle and enunciate when you swear the witness in and give them instructions.
Unofficial Time Keeper (optional)
- In some competitions teams may, at their option, provide an unofficial timekeeper during the trial rounds
- An unofficial timekeeper cross checks the timekeeping of the bailiff.
- The unofficial timer is usually the clerk (but, depending on the rules, it can also be a performing attorney from prosecution/plaintiff’s side)
- Check your local Mock Trial rules as to what must be done if your team wants to use an unofficial time keeper