ECO 3620. Environmental Economics

Last Update: 10/28/2008

Instructor: John Whitehead

Mock Trial

The mock trial will proceed much like a real trial. The instructor will serve as judge.  Students will serve as attorneys and expert witnesses (i.e., forensic economists) for the plaintiff and defense. Attorneys will give opening and closing arguments. Attorneys will call expert witnesses, elicit testimony, and cross examine. Expert witnesses will give presentations of economic evidence and answer questions. There will be 1 attorney on each team. The other team members are forensic economists (i.e., expert witnesses). Each trial takes place during one class period. Students not involved in the trial serve as the jury.

In the research paper you will conduct an economic analysis in support of your side's case in the mock trial. Each student writes a paper describing their contributions (e.g., economists: basic research, attorneys: summary of entire team's research) to the overall effort. The mock trial project is worth 100 points. The research paper is worth 50 points. Oral presentations consist of opening and closing arguments, expert testimony, cross examination, rebuttal, etc. Your oral presentation (i.e., participation in the trial) is worth 50 points.

The plaintiff and defendant teams will develop contrasting estimates of compensation of losses suffered by victims. The “make whole” principle, which means making the victim as well off as if the negligence had not occurred, is the normal standard for compensation. Forensic economists and attorneys conduct research and develop points and counterpoints to be used during trial.

Forensic economists have been hired by the law firm to conduct economic analysis in support of your side's case in the mock trial. Consider both market and non-market valuation methods. Also, you should develop tables and/or charts summarizing your arguments that you will introduce during the trial as an exhibit. Oral presentations consist of opening and closing arguments, detailed expert testimony, etc. Each trial should last one hour or less. The oral presentation is worth 20 points.

The paper should be no less than two pages and no more than 4 pages in length. The format of the paper should be as a report to the law firm. The attorney's paper will consist of a summary of the entire team's research in the form of a script of opening arguments of the case and a section on the court strategy to be used (sections 2 and 3). The paper is worth 80 points.

Sections of the paper should include:

  1. Introduction - summarize the case and your team's view of it (attorney: your opening argument)
  2. Team damage estimates - summarize your team's damage estimates (individual components and total)
  3. Individual damage estimates - describe in detail your calculations (this is the foundation of your testimony)
  4. Sensitivity analysis - show how your estimate could have been higher and/or lower
  5. Conclusions - describe the strengths and weaknesses of your case
  6. Appendix - the appendix is a reaction paper to the mock trial. The topics are open but may include what you learned from the mock trial, discuss research difficulties, surprises, etc.
  7. Tables - show your calculations in table form
Your cover page should include title (e.g., "Court Case: Economic Analysis in Support of the Plaintiff/Defendent"), your name, ECO 3620 Environmental Economics, and date. Your paper should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font with no more than five character space paragraph indents, have no more than 1.25" margins all around, and double spaced with no extra spaces between headings and text. Also, avoid use of quotes (summarize in your own words but be careful not to plagiarize). The paper is due no later than the final exam period: Tuesday, Dec 14 at 3:00 pm.