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SparkNotes for EmpowerMilk v Jerri Anderson

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  • SparkNotes for EmpowerMilk v Jerri Anderson

    For those wondering what happened, here’s a quick and dirty "SparkNotes version" from someone who watched the trial but may have misremembered or misinterpreted things. Please hold me accountable to the truth if my memory has failed me.

    The trial was a defamation case. An Instagram influencer (Jerri Anderson) makes an untruthful post saying a local almond milk company (EmpowerMilk) contained lead and supposedly this made the company’s sales drop. Anderson says she made the post after hearing two people talking about it in a store. EmpowerMilk (represented by the founder Ari Mendez) sues the influencer (Anderson) for intentionally lying.

    Yale’s defense was that Anderson was manipulated into making the post. The head of the Midlands Dairy Farmers Association (Dakota Rivers) actually sent those guys into the store to plant the idea of there being “lead in almond milk” so that Anderson would post something about it. This is because Rivers and the Dairy farmers were getting outcompeted by EmpowerMilk. This is further supported by the fact that Anderson and Rivers had an advertising contract. Yale has their store owner (Sullivan) say that day that Anderson was in the store, two guys made a “beeline for her aisle” and started loudly opining about lead poisoning.

    Then they call Rivers. The idea with Rivers is that it’s an ambush direct. His DA starts interrogating him about his involvement in Anderson’s post. He ends up implying he sent those people to talk about lead poisoning in front of Anderson to get her to make that false post. EmpowerMilk would then tank and Big Dairy would reap the benefits. But on cross, he gets questioned about a particular line in his affidavit. This line was something like “If I had known Anderson would talk about lead poisoning in almond milk I would never have let her post it.” Rivers then says “no that’s not true” and gets impeached. He then says “I said that because I didn’t want to get sued.” I read Bays’ post. This is an issue of semantics where that line could have meant several things. I encourage you to read Bay’s arguments since I believe her explanation will be more comprehensive than mine. I think her arguments are sound, yet my impression in the round was “holy shit he just committed perjury.”

    Regardless of semantics, AMTA believes that what Rivers said during trial amounts to a recantation of his affidavit. I can certainly see how that may be the case, especially since Rivers did not immediately explain what he meant. Recanting affidavits is bad by any measure because it literally breaks mock trial. If the witness separates himself from his affidavit he can say whatever he wants. In a real trial rebuttal witnesses can remedy this, but in mock trial the opposing counsel can do nothing.

    That being said, I don’t believe Yale deserves all the hate they got. I think it’s probable that they were acting in good faith and they just messed up. But they were already walking close to the line, and that little slip pushed them outside of the boundaries. AMTA also did not make those boundaries clear which means this whole fiasco is partially on them.

    To Yale: I’m sorry. You may have made mistakes but given the severity of the sanctions as well as the public nature of them, the punishments far outweigh the crime. I thought your attorneys and witnesses were incredibly talented and I hope to see you compete again one day.

    To Rhodes: I’m also sorry. You deserved a fairer round and better chance at winning. I think you earned many people’s respect in turning down the championship. Your attorneys and witnesses were also some of the best I’ve seen and hopefully we will see you back in the final round soon.

    It was an honor to learn from both of you.

    Going forward I do think that AMTA needs to be more precise with their definitions of invention and more transparent about the sanctioning process. From my understanding, it is abhorrently opaque and ironically lacking in due process. Collateral damage is commonplace, with bystanders often punished for the actions of their seniors. As the sole governing body of collegiate mock trial, AMTA needs to take responsibility for the flaws in the system they have created. Hopefully we will see them continue to enforce rules but to start acting with more respect and compassion for competitors.

  • #2
    Ah yes, I remember when Sparknotes clearly injected the opinion of the person summarizing in a non impartial way. Like when I read the sparknotes on Macbeth and it said "To Lady Macbeth: You were treated harshly and I totally understand why you did what you did. You did nothing wrong and it's clear the system just wants to oppress you. Shakespeare wrote you poorly."

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