The FIU Trial Team concluded its COVID-19 virtual competition season with another Top 4 finish – this time on the national stage, at STAC: the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition.
The case at trial involved multiple injuries suffered in a traffic crash.
Our all 3L AAJ squad – ANGELIQUE HERNANDEZ, HILLARY KUMP, DREW NEWMAN, and MARKO NIKITOVIC – tore through their preliminary rounds, going undefeated in three trials to earn their semifinal slot, besting teams from top-ranked trial advocacy programs Syracuse and the University of Michigan along the way.
FIU had a perfect prelim scorecard – winning all nine juror votes over three rounds – and earning a second-place power-rank going into the semifinals.
In the semis, it was FIU against Harvard, the ultimate regional tournament winner. Our students fought like champions all trial long and were edged out by the barest of margins.
On the final juror’s scorecard, the teams were tied. The lone tiebreak point went the other way.
“This trial team journey began, like always, with a blank page,” said Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, AAJ coach and Assistant Director of FIU’s Trial Advocacy Program. “Students and coaches launched our preparation five months ago – in November – worked through winter break, and continued into the spring term, leading up to last week’s opening round.”
Pictured, left to right: Top row: Professor Fingerhut, Angelique Hernandez, and Coach Annasofia Roig. Middle row: Coach Courtney Salas, Drew Newman, and Hillary Kump. Bottom row: Marko Nikitovic.
“In court and out, these students are winners and they carry themselves like winners – prepared, poised, persuasive, and professional,” Professor Fingerhut continued, “and we are grateful for the opportunity to showcase nationwide their extraordinary mtalent and our special FIU brand of Passionate Principled Advocacy.”
Along with Professor Fingerhut, the AAJ team was coached by FIU Law alumna ANNASOFIA ROIG (COL ’19) and COURTNEY SALAS (COL ’18).
Both women are past FIU Trial Team champions, Trial Team competition advocacy award winners, and FIU Trial Advocacy Program scholarship recipients.
Ms. Roig is law clerk to the Honorable Monica Gordo on Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal, and this fall begins her judicial clerkship for the Honorable Adalberto Jordan on the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Salas is a trial lawyer with Hevia Law Firm in Coral Gables.
Also contributing to this year’s second Trial Team Top 4 finish were coaches Ari Goldberg (COL ’12), also an FIU Trial Team alumni, former Trial Team captain, and an FIU Trial Advocacy adjunct professor, and Professor H.T. Smith, Founding Director of our Trial Advocacy Program.
Sponsored by the American Association for Justice, STAC ranks among the premier law school mock trial competitions in the country.
Earlier this year, the FIU Law Trial Team advanced to the Top 4 in the Florida state championship, the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition, sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar.
To discover more about the FIU Trial Advocacy Program, its Trial Team, curriculum, advocacy opportunities, and amazing students, visit law.fiu.edu/trialad or call 305-348-8095.