Capt. Justin B. Hayes, a Judge Advocate who serves as the chief of National Security Law for the 1st Cavalry Division Staff Judge Advocate Office, presided over a mock trial presentation held by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) at the Baylor University of Law in Waco Feb. 25 to the 26.
“I’ve been judging these competitions since I was a first-year law student back in 2011,” Hayes said. “This is a prime opportunity for educating students that the military has legal jobs that they can engage in because some people don’t even find out that the JAG Corps exists until their final year of law school.”
The AMTA is the governing body for intercollegiate mock trial competitions, allowing students to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills while developing their knowledge of legal practices and procedures. Hayes had the opportunity to act as the presiding judge over four rounds of a civil mock trial competition involving eight separate schools.
“My job is to serve as a judge literally for the competition, but as well as the judge for the trial,” Hayes said. “So whenever objections are raised, I will make rulings on the objections and then at the end, provide scores for the competitors and then provide feedback to them about how to improve their trial advocacy skills.”
Hayes scored competitors on their conduct and knowledge of legal procedures, while also judging them based on their presence, oral performance, critical thinking, witness control, and evidentiary foundations. Each trial he judged was three hours long, including opening statements, witness and cross examinations and closing statements.
“I think one of the most beautiful things about the military overall is that we are a micro representation of the United States at large,” Hayes said. “Some people consider the military a job, some people consider it a lifestyle, nearly everything you can do in the civilian world you can do in the military.”
The competition is one of several events in recent months where the “First Team” is engaging with younger audiences to inform them of the many options young Americans have if they choose to serve with the U.S. Army. The 1st Cavalry Division is committed to attracting a talented, skilled and diverse force who will help meet future challenges and win our nation’s wars.
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