The 25th Annual College Mock Trial National Championships will take place in Des Moines, today through Sunday, April 19 at Hotel Fort Des Moines and the Polk County Courthouse.

The best 48 college teams from around the country will compete in four rounds of trials over the course of three days. The rounds begin at 6:30 p.m. today, 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18 and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, April 19. Four teams from Iowa including Drake University, Grinnell College, Cornell College and the University of Iowa are all competing in this year’s Championships.

After four rounds of competition, the winners of the two 24-team divisions will be decided and will square off in one final trial at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Drake Legal Clinic, located at 24th and University in Des Moines. The overall National Champion will be crowned at approximately 7 p.m. More than 500 people are expected to attend the awards ceremony for all teams where the division winners are announced. The awards ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Hotel Fort Des Moines.

At mock trial tournaments, students play the roles of attorneys and witnesses and all teams will argue each side of the case twice. The teams are scored by real attorneys who volunteer their time to judge. At the start of the mock trial season, all teams receive the same packet of case materials including evidence, witness statements and relevant law. This year’s case involves a defamation claim brought against the fictional Blitz News Network by a gubernatorial candidate accused of murdering a rival. Over 500 teams began the season with 48 earning the opportunity to compete at the Championships.

The American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) was founded by Dick Calkins, then-Dean of Drake University Law School, and remains headquartered in West Des Moines. Although teams from AMTA’s home state continue to thrive, college mock trial has become truly national in scope.

All this weekend’s events are open to the public and opportunities for still photos and video taping are available. Interviews with tournament organizers and students can also be arranged upon request. For more information, please contact AMTA President-Elect David Nelmark at or (515) 988-0447.