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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Miami, FL – March 21, 2022)

Your FIU College of Law Trial Team is champion this semester once again – this time of the Southeast 1 Region at this year’s Student Trial Advocacy Competition (STAC), sponsored by the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

FIU bested No. 4 nationally-ranked University of South Carolina in the final.

This is the Trial Team’s second win in a row.  FIU won the Florida state championship – the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition, sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar – just 8 weeks ago.

Repeating as your champion double-advocates are 2L Victoria Thacker and 3L Forrest J. Wilson.  Double-witness Alexander A. Pollock also returns as champion, with double-witnesses 3L Stephanie Peña, a Bedell quarter-finalist advocate/witness, rounding out our winning team.

FIU Law Trial Team AAJ Regional Champions (pictured left to right) Stephanie Peña, Forrest J. Wilson, Victoria Thacker, and Alexander A. Pollock

This year’s AAJ competition was virtual and comprised of eight national regions, with 128 teams competing in total, 16 teams in each region.

In our southeast region, FIU was power-ranked third after three preliminary rounds, and increased its power-rank to second going into the finals, where we proved victorious by a decisive 4-1 juror vote over South Carolina.

Teams in our region included FSU, Stetson, UF, Ave Maria, Akron, Georgia State, Loyola-New Orleans, LSU, Mercer, Tulane, and Wayne State.

The top two teams from each region were crowned champion.

FIU Law Trial Team now goes on to AAJ nationals, where the winning teams from all eight regions across the country will vie for the title.

Competing alongside FIU Law are: American, Cumberland, DePaul, Duquesne, Georgetown, NYU, Pace, Penn. State, St. Mary’s, Temple, University of Alabama, University of California Berkeley, University of California Davis, University of California Los Angeles, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Maryland, Washington University, and Stetson, also representing the Southeast 1 Region.

This year’s competition trial is a wrongful death case alleging negligence against a property management company after an elevated, residential wooden deck collapsed under the weight of some 50 hard-partying college seniors, killing one of them.

The AAJ team began preparing the day after the Bedell competition concluded in late January, working every day and evening — weekdays and weekends — to get ready for trial.  Scrimmages against Temple and American — champions of their own regions and also going to nationals — were invaluable.

“Going into AAJ, having just won Bedell, these students knew full well that no worthwhile accomplishment comes easily, and how difficult it was going to be to repeat as champions,” said Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program and the team’s lead coach.  “But together,” Professor Fingerhut continued, “these students held steadfast to a noble goal: that growing to our full potential meant embracing a challenge to draw out our deeper resources, talents and capacities — those we did not know we had — to surmount obstacles by summoning up our daring and creativity.  This kind of challenge, familiar to great athletes, scientists, and artists, to be sure, is not for the meek.  And now, having risen to this occasion and seizing this grand opportunity, these magnificent students of passion and principle may hold their heads high for having weathered a storm, proudly displaying our special FIU Law trial advocacy brand, and thriving, as Hemingway wrote, ‘stronger at the broken places.’”

AAJ STAC is one of the country’s two premier open mock trial tournaments.

Our champion AAJ team was coached by Professor Fingerhut, along with Trial Team and College of Law alumna Annasofia A. Roig ’19, FIU Law alumnus and former Trial Team captain, Trial Advocacy Adjunct Professor Ari S. Goldberg ’12, and, of course, Professor H.T. Smith, inaugural Director of our Trial Advocacy Program.

To learn more about Trial Ad at FIU and all that our program has to offer, call 305-348-8095 or visit