Mock Trial Strategies

Clerk's Duties

Clerk's Duties

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.

Typical Duties

  • When the judge arrives in the courtroom introduce themselves and explain that you will assist as the court clerk.
  • Rosters:
    • 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
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