The Three U’s of Theme and Theory

Theme and theory are fundamental to a Mock Trial case-in-chief. Case theory will act as the game plan while the theme will guide the jurors through the case-in-chief.

Case Theory

Finding a case theory is not impossible. When you receive the case material, you will be overwhelmed with a lot of information that may further or hold back your case. However, the ultimate goal is to take this mess of information and organize it into a compelling and intelligible story.

Firstly, remember the Three U’s! Understandable, Unimpeachable, Unforgettable. 

Understandable

Cases will have good and bad facts. Use a Venn diagram, like the one you learned in elementary school, to organize your good, bad, and neutral facts. This information can then be used to develop a theme or can be developed around your theory. It isn’t a bad idea to make use of bad facts. In addition, always mitigate your bad facts than letting the opposing team expose them.

Unimpeachable

Case theory has to be unimpeachable. In other words, your theory has to be a solid theory with absolutely no loopholes as it looks awful if your theory can be used against you.

Unforgettable

Most teams will forget this step as it tends to be the most difficult. The story not only has to compelling and intelligible, but it has to be unforgettable. The opposing team will probably have a compelling and intelligible story but you can always be one step ahead with an unforgettable theme and theory. This can be accomplished with the way you organize your case-in-chief. You’ll learn more about this later as you read the entire guide.

Theme

Themes are a part of human life. We have themes for everything. For example, stories are usually centered and organized around a central theme. Themes are supposed to get your point across in one short, catchy line, phrase, or word. For example, you may use the word “Honesty”. Or you may use the expression, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

O.J. Simpson trying on the gloves during the trial to prove theme and theory. Credit: Sam Mircovich/Reuters

Think about the OJ Simpson Murder Case. Lawyer Johnnie Cochran, OJ Simpson’s defense attorney, emphasized his theory of the case with this theme: “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.” (FUN FACT: This was not his original theme) This was used because the glove found at the murder scene did not fit the hand of OJ Simpson and Cochran used that fact to generate a whole theme around it. Ultimately, OJ Simpson was controversially found not guilty.