Monmouth University fielded two mock trial teams in competition at the Guardian Mock Trial Tournament hosted by the United States Coast Guard Academy on October 25-27. The tournament included 20 teams from universities such as Seton Hall, Fordham, Quinnipiac, Holy Cross, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and Brandeis, to name a few. In this highly competitive invitational, students were judged in four rounds with two ballots in each round for a possible total of eight ballots. In only its second year of existence, Monmouth’s mock trial program placed a team in the top 50% of the competition and also brought home an individual award, the university’s first. Cara Turcich, team A co-captain, received an award for best witness portrayal.
Team A (made up of Joseph Dellera, co-captain; Cara Turcich, co-captain; Anthony Giannopolous; Susan Pagano; James Creech; Stephen Lang; with timekeeper, Joshua Manning) placed ninth in the field, finishing 5-3. The team started the competition 0-3 and won all ballots remaining after the Saturday morning round of competition. Additionally, one judge scoring a “W” for Team A in the last round on Sunday morning put Monmouth ahead of its competitor by 27 points, the second highest distance of any round in the entire competition. Senior “attorney” Anthony Giannopolous was complimented by the final round judge as giving one of the best cross examinations he’d ever seen in any of the competitions he’s judged.
Monmouth’s novice team (Team B) gained invaluable experience in its first ever invitational tournament in a very competitive field, winning one ballot and honing the mock trial skills for future competitions. Team B is David Quinones (captain), Iziah Thompson, Jenna Ferraro, Veronika Tadros, Saliha Younas, Ashley Medina, and Justine Longa.
The competition was one of several fall semester invitationals offered to prepare students for the competitive American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) tournament structure starting in February of 2014. Each year, over 600 teams from across the nation compete in the AMTA invitational and tournament structure, making it the largest intercollegiate mock trial organization in the nation. Students gain invaluable lawyering and litigation skills as they develop trial strategy throughout the course of an academic year, learning about pre-trial matters, the rules of evidence, witness questioning (including direct and cross-examination), and the art of opening and closing statements. The mock trial problem alternates between a civil and criminal problem each year. The 2013-2014 problem of State of Midlands v. Whit Bowman is a criminal case, requiring students to digest the law of the fictitious state of “Midlands” (both statutory and case law), as well as develop a trial strategy through the calling of various witnesses. Students learn the nuance of evidentiary matters as they relate to witness questioning and are allowed to raise objections based on questioning, testing their understanding of concepts related to relevancy, hearsay, and character evidence.
Monmouth’s two inaugural moot court teams (Daniel Roman & Dylan Maynard and Michael Hamilton & Harmony Bailey) will compete in regional competition at the University of Central Florida on November 15-16, 2013, simulating a mock appellate case before the United States Supreme Court, arguing issues of privacy under the Fourth Amendment and powers of the presidency under Article II.
The Monmouth mock trial teams will next compete in Temple University’s Second Annual “Hooter” invitational on November 23-24, 2013.
For more information, contact Professor Greg Bordelon at Bordelon@monmouth.edu.