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Student reacts to AMTA Board Minutes (2017-2018)

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  • Student reacts to AMTA Board Minutes (2017-2018)

    You can find and read over the minutes page here:

    From December meeting:
    - Motion was passed to allow teams to send more than 2 teams to a regional (for pacific northwesterners). To clarify the change was to make the distance 625 miles instead of 900 miles as said in the rules.

    From July meeting:
    - Budget - passed
    - Allow new schools to not pay membership fees - failed
    - Allow new schools to review case materials for informational purposes - passed
    - Remove new case for nationals - failed (to clarify this means that we will continue to have a new case written for nationals)
    - Clarification that re-direct examination is confined to scope of cross examination (Rule 611) - passed
    - Allow objections to openings and closing statements - referred to rules committee
    - Include specifications for how to assign judges - passed
    - Change language surrounding all-loss to be when students finish speaking (in the case that no closing statements are given), also remove 5 minute grace period for judges to score the ballots - passed
    - Getting a new executive director - referred to strategic planning committee
    - Changing invitational duties deadlines (sending case info and licensing fee) - passed
    - Regional hosts get $3,250 and ORCS hosts get $6000, if regional has less than 18 teams, receive $2000 - passed
    - Amending language surrounding how regional placements - passed
    - If a team isn't assigned a regional close to them they get their money back - passed
    - The team that wins SPAMTA at nationals gets one team free registration next year - passed
    - A and B team's competing at ORCS should be differentiated as the program's top team and second best team for tabulating purposes - passed
    - include a paragraph in rules stating that AMTA embraces and promotes diversity, this way judge power points can have this reflected and hopefully reduce the number of racist and/or sexist judges, additionally allowed for tournament organizers to choose presiding judges based on gender and race to increase diversity and representation - passed
    - change wording of how many bids regionals are allocated based on number of teams - passed
    - host schools get one bid for hosting if they make it to ORCS, also explaining how divisions are made at NCT - passed
    - Philadelphia chosen as site for 2018-2019 NCT - passed
    - Next board meeting in Vegas - passed
    - Thanks for hosting - passed

    There are a lot of other small things, we recommend reading through the minutes yourself, we just wanted to highlight the main motions.
    Last edited by MockAnalysisIsMyDrug; February 12th, 2018, 01:34 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by MockAnalysisIsMyDrug View Post
    - host schools get one bid for hosting if they make it to ORCS, also explaining how divisions are made at NCT - passed
    Not that it really matters this year, but I've always thought they should go ahead and have three open bids to Nationals to handle the host bid rather than just one. Uneven divisions doesn't seem like the best idea to me.


    • #3
      I agree, I like more open bids to Nationals, I don't think 2 more teams in each division makes a huge difference. I am also a big fan of allowing people to object after speeches, but not during though.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Adevans View Post
        I am also a big fan of allowing people to object after speeches, but not during though.
        I've always been a bit surprised that they don't allow this. High School has a whole protocol for objecting after speeches. I don't like the high school protocol, but I've always been surprised that AMTA hasn't adopted an "object after the speech" system. Usually its High School that lags way behind AMTA.


        • #5
          Any idea how objections to speeches might work if they're implemented?


          • #6
            I don't know how AMTA would do it, but the way high school works, you wait until after the speech is finished and then you stand up and say "had I been allowed to object during the opening/closing I would have objected to __{state your grounds}__." The whole "had I been allowed to object" is always a bit awkward. But AMTA could always adopt a system in which people move to strike portions of the speech after its completion.


            • #7
              This one is simple to me. In law school mock, you can object to speeches, but it's incredibly rare because it's such a risky decision - you better be right, or it's going to cost your own score. I see no reason why this wouldn't translate to AMTA. Yes, undergraduate students are a tad overzealous sometimes, but that would even itself out in scoring as teams learned when to object/when not to object during statements.


              • #8
                I know that there's a lot of debate surrounding this, but I personally am very glad that we will continue to have a new case for Nationals. I think it offers more opportunity for creativity, showcases teams' ability to adapt (which I think is one of mock's key skills), is more fun, and may even help attenuate the effects of a large budget that allows some programs to attend more invitationals than others.


                • #9
                  I wonder if objections to speeches would be worth anything considering the way scoring works. A member of my program's B team objected to closing for improper burden shifting and the judge, correctly in my opinion, asked what they wanted him to do about it. Assuming judges score as they go, I can only see adding objecting after closing becoming a gross meta-exercise is trying to argue that the judge ought to remove points from a close in an effort to sway a close ballot. Without a consistent standard for making deductions, the entire scoring process would be more arbitrary than it is already and I can see how interpersonal tensions between teams could get uglier. I'd argue that there's ample opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the rules throughout trial and so objections to speeches would be a net negative for the activity.


                  • #10
                    I think objections after speeches might be worth it for two reasons:

                    1) A good objection after an opening or closing can cause the judges to lower the score for the opening/closing if the team did something bad in closing/opening. I think this would provide an incentive for teams to go the extra mile to make sure their speeches were all above board from a legal stand point. In closing, for instance I think right now there is very little incentive for closers to modify and take out facts that didn't come in during trial because very few judges pay sufficient attention to notice when closers use facts that didn't come in. If they could get an objection, they might actually be forced to think on their feet about it. I think right now speeches are becoming far too skewed towards a "who can recite the speech their coach wrote for them in the most compelling voice?" standard and away from actually valuing the ability to do good legal thinking, and good argumentation on your feet based on what actually happened in trial. Clearly presentational ability is important but it isn't the only important thing. Allowing objections might remedy that a bit.

                    As to the question of the judge who says "what do you want me to do about it?" I think this may be because the current AMTA judges presentation specifically tells judges that there are no objections to opening or closing. If it said they could score based on objections to opening/closing then they might know what to do about it (e.g. score the other side down or score you up for making a good objection).

                    2) More importantly, in openings, I think there is an incentive at the moment to misstate things (particularly the law). The judges are told in the judges presentation that the law in Midlands is different from the law in other places and they don't know the case in most situations, so if a student says that the law of Midlands procecedure works one way in Midlands in opening, they are going to believe said student (because for all they know Midlands law is different from normal law on this point). Without the ability to object after openings, there isn't really a formal way of remedying the misconceptions the other team's opening may have caused until closing (very late in the trial). That can affect the way that the judges/jury see the evidence for the rest of the trial and can affect a lot of scores, not just opening.
                    Last edited by TheGhostofChaseMichael; February 16th, 2018, 07:26 PM.


                    • #11
                      1. That certainly makes sense. I also think another possible way to improve this area could be to change the way that scoring closings is described for judges, potentially adding a section about "how well the closing mirrored what actually came out in trial"? Many judges already note that in their comments when there is a big departure from what came out in trial so codifying that could be helpful. lllAlso defense close and prosecution rebuttle offer a chance to point out that important facts didn't come out in trial, so the only place where that is not covered is final rebuttle?
                      2. This is definitely the trickier problem. As defense it could be feasible to correct misstatements in your own speech but that could be asking a lot. Perhaps giving the possibility of providing judicial notice if there is an egregious misstatement of the law? That does not seem like enough

                      My broad concern is that if it was instituted speech objections would not always be used in good faith cases of #1 and 2. Having judged high school mock in a state that allows this, the period to make objections tended just to be a toxic attempt to ding opposing consul on minor infractions that added little substantive value to the trial. Overall, I'm worried about the potential to just leave an ugly taste at the end of the round for everyone and make rounds more toxic especially in rounds between . Maybe college mockers would be better with that? I don't know.