Important Note

Tufts ended funding for its Open Courseware initiative in 2014. We are now planning to retire this site on June 30, 2018. Content will be available for Tufts contributors after that date. If you have any questions about this please write to

Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Ross S. Feldberg

1. Mock Trial Assignment

A rape trial has concluded with a guilty verdict. . . . . .

However, the defendant’s lawyers will now attempt to argue for mitigation in the sentencing phase based on Thornhill’s arguments that rape is an evolutionary selection – for behavior. The defense lawyers will go first, asking their two expert witnesses specific questions to elicit a favorable ruling for their client. (You need to decide on what questions to ask to support your case and make sure your expert witnesses can answer these in an appropriate manner.) Plan on this taking no more than 10-15 min.


  • 2 defense lawyers (who will question your expert witnesses)

  • 2 defense expert witnesses

  • 2 defense lawyers who will cross-examine the prosecuting team’s expert witnesses

After you have completed presenting your case, there will be a 5 minute break to allow the prosecution cross-examining lawyers to confer. Then they will cross-examine your witnesses (10 min) asking questions of them in an effort to discredit their previous testimony.

Next, the prosecuting team will call its expert witnesses. Prosecuting lawyers will ask questions to raise doubts about the validity of the Evolutionary Psychology (EP) argument on rape (10-15 min).


  • 2 prosecuting attorneys (to question your experts)

  • 2 prosecuting expert witnesses

  • 2 prosecuting lawyers who will cross-examine the other side’s expert witnesses

After another 5 minute break, the two defense lawyers will cross-examine the prosecution expert witnesses with the object of raising doubts about their testimony.

Finally, I will play the role of judge, deciding on objections and moving the case along

Other Parameters of the case:

  1. The convicted rapist is not a very likeable character. He is definitely "resource poor."

  2. Give your expert witnesses identities (i.e., professor of psychology at Podunk University, bioethicist at the Hastings Center, worker at rape crisis center, social worker, etc.). They should prepare to answer your leading questions ahead of time to make the points you wish to make. They will have to respond to the cross-examining attorneys’ questions as the best they can.

Have fun (but remember either this defendant or the victim is depending on you to represent their interests!!!)


And for the Defense…

And for the Prosecution…