Glossary

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Admit, Admissible

In a trial, "admit" means something different than the way we typically use the word “admit.” It’s not like admitting you were wrong, etc. So, when a judge admits your evidence, that does not mean they are admitting that your evidence is correct. Rather, it means that the judge has deemed your evidence something he or she will consider.

A judge admits evidence (testimony or exhibits) if it complies with the applicable Rules of Evidence. Your case packet includes a set of Rules of Evidence that will apply in your competition. Evidence that complies with the Rules of Evidence is called admissible evidence.

Appearance

An attorney’s introduction to the court.  The attorney identifies themselves and tells the court (judge) who they represent.

At the start of a mock trial, team members playing attorneys state their appearances (i.e., introduce themselves to the judge).  Witnesses and other team members do not state appearances; they introduce themselves to the judge.

Court

This term often refers to a judge or judges.

  • “May the prosecution witnesses introduce themselves to the Court?” means, "Your Honor, may the witnesses introduce themselves to you?"
  • Pretrial attorneys might refer to other judges, for example the justices of the Supreme Court when they say “In Terry v. Ohio, the Court decided…” Here, “Court” refers to the justices of the Supreme Court who decided the case Terry v. Ohio.

Elements of crime

These are the components that the prosecution must prove to show that the defendant has committed the crime.  The prosecution must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.  Elements of the offense are listed in the Jury Instructions, which are often part of a mock trial case packet.  If there are no Jury Instructions for the offense, read the statute (often, a Penal Code section) for the offense to identify all of the elements.

Evidence

Evidence means any witness testimony or exhibit are offered by any party in a trial.

"Evidence" can also refer to the group of evidence (i.e., testimony and exhibits) that the judge considers in determining the verdict.   When deciding on the verdict in a case, the judge considers only testimony and exhibits that have been admitted into evidence.

Examination

The questioning of witness by an attorney.

Direct examination is the examination of a witness by the attorney offering the witness’s testimony as evidence.  In mock trial, direct examination means examination of a witness by an attorney on the witness’s own team.

Cross examination is the examination of a witness by opposing counsel.

Hear

The court (judge) listens to and considers arguments made by attorneys.

  • Example: The court hears arguments on the prosecution’s motion to exclude evidence.
  • When you ask the judge, “Your Honor, May I be heard?”, you are asking the judge to listen to and consider an argument you want to make.

Impeach

A witness can be impeached by showing that their testimony on the stand is not credible. In mock trial, this is most often done by showing that the witness has provided in-court testimony that is not consistent with the witness statement.

Motion

<id="motion">Motion (n): a request to the judge.

  • For example, “Your Honor, the prosecution makes a motion to exclude evidence.”

Move (v): to make a request to the judge.

  • For example, you might say, “Your Honor, I move to strike the hearsay testimony.”  You would NOT say, “I motion to strike.”

Offer of Proof

Explanation to the judge.

  • For example, you might make an offer of proof to explain the relevance of certain testimony.

Opening the door

This phrase refers to the defendant offering evidence of their good character.  After the defense “opens the door” to evidence of his character, the prosecution can then offer evidence of the defendant’s bad character to rebut the evidence offered by the defense.

Overrule

When an objection is overruled, it means that the judge disagrees with the objecting attorney.  The judge determines that the question asked or testimony given was proper under the Rules of Evidence.

Party

A party is someone directly involved in a lawsuit.  In mock trial, the parties are the Plaintiff and the Defendant.  Most mock trials are criminal cases, so the defendant is the person accused of committing the crime.  The Plaintiff is “the People of the State”.  Thus, the plaintiff in a criminal case is not a specific person.  The prosecution acts on behalf of all residents of the state.  In a civil case, the plaintiff is the person suing (usually for money), and the defendant is the person being sued.

People

“The People” refers to the prosecution. In a criminal case, the prosecution represents the plaintiff, the People of the State.

Rule

This means to decide.

  • A judge rules on an objection.  This means that the judge decides whether the objection is valid (sustains the objection) or not (overrules the objection).

Strike

Remove improper testimony. When a motion to strike is granted, it’s as if the improper testimony was not given at all.

Submit

Give a matter or issue to the judge for consideration and decision. When an attorney says “Submitted” after making and/or arguing an objection, it means that the attorney has said all they want to say about the objection and is ready for the judge to make a ruling.

Sustain

When an objection is sustained, it means that the judge agrees with the objecting attorney.  The judge determines that the question asked or testimony given was improper.

Verdict

The judge’s decision on whether the defendant is guilty of the crime(s) charged.

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