ADA - Ohio Northern University's mock trial program will host the seventh annual Polar Bear Invitational Mock Trial Tournament from Jan. 19-20. The competition will take place at ONU's Pettit College of Law, Hill Building and Dukes Memorial. More than 300 students from 24 colleges and universities representing 12 states will participate in the tournament.

The tournament consists of four rounds, with trials taking place simultaneously in each round. Each mock trial has a panel of two judges who evaluate students on their knowledge of case material and presentation and litigation techniques. On Saturday, the first round of the competition begins at 10:30 a.m., and the next round begins at 4 p.m. On Sunday, the first round begins at 9:30 a.m., and the second begins at 2 p.m.

The tournament gives honors to the top teams as well as outstanding attorneys and witnesses.

The case this year, as assigned to each mock trial group by the American Mock Trial Association, is a civil case that deals with Lee and Andy Allen. The couple signed up with Neptune Underwater Expeditions to explore a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean. On July 7, 2011, Lee died during the dive. Andy, acting on behalf of spouse Lee, is suing Neptune for Lee's wrongful death.

Dr. JoAnn Scott, professor of political science and adviser of the ONU mock trial team, emphasized the benefits afforded to students involved in mock trial beyond awards and honors.

"At the ONU invitational, students get the chance to try a case against different regions, where legal norms are different," Scott said. "Practice of this sort only adds to the mock trial experience. Since the majority of team members are considering law school, mock trial allows them to see if it's really what they want to do."

An invitational such as this one is just practice, Scott said. Teams gain experience and learn from their mistakes in order to prepare for regional and national competitions later in the year.

The teams participating this year are from the following colleges: Allegheny, Baldwin Wallace, Bowling Green, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, Dayton, Eastern Michigan, Emory, Indiana, Kentucky, Lewis (Illinois), Loyola (Chicago), Manchester, Miami of Ohio, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwood, ONU, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Sullivan, Texas-Dallas, and Toledo.