The FIU College of Law TRIAL TEAM returns home with both of our squads having advanced deep into the 2018 Chester H. Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition
Sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar and held at the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, this year’s Bedell competition featured Florida’s traditionally tough mock trial programs and put our magnificent trial team students to the ultimate test.
Advancing to the SEMIFINALS – and just missing out on a chance to compete for the championship — were SAMUEL E. BASCH (plaintiffs’ advocate and witness), JUSTIN JAMES DURAN (swing advocate), ANNASOFIA A. ROIG (double witness), and COURTNEY ANNE SALAS (defense advocate and witness).
This team went undefeated in the preliminaries, beating FSU and Barry 4-0 apiece (that’s 4 scoring jurors to none) and ranking second overall when the cut was made to the top 8 after first two rounds.
In the quarterfinals, this team then beat FSU again, 3-1, paving their way to the semis, where, in a true legal fight to the finish, they tied on judges (2-2), but lost on total score – and missed out on vying for the championship (which we won two years ago) — by only 2 points.
Advancing to the QUARTERFINALS themselves were KELLY M. PARKER (double witness), JACKSON SHUFORD (defense advocate and witness), DANE STUHLSATZ (swing advocate), and RAFAEL TORRES (plaintiffs’ advocate and witness).
This team went 1-1 in the preliminary rounds, beating national powerhouse Stetson 3-1, and tying UF on judges (2-2), but losing on total points by 7.
Of the four 1-1 teams that advanced to the quarters, this team was ranked first, with a total point ranking of fourth overall after the preliminaries.
In their quarterfinal round, this team again squared off against UF, and again tied on judges (2-2), only to fall on points once more.
All told, from competition start to finish, more valiant and professional trial advocacy you could neither hope for nor ever see.
The Bedell Team began practice on December 17th, immediately once finals were over, and continued to prepare — here on campus, usually very late into the night — literally every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s.
They accomplished in one month what normally takes two.
“This team did everything asked of them to win,” said Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, Assistant Director of FIU’s Trial Advocacy Program. “They were smart, seamless, confident, and they swarmed their courtrooms each and every round with our stories – great stories – stories about real people in need of exceptional representation. But proud as we are of the graceful manner in which they met both achievement and adversity in this competition, prouder still are we of the way in which they came together, learning what good comes from selfless service — from being part of something that was less without them, but larger than themselves.” Professor Fingerhut concluded, “If we are to live passionate principled advocacy, our Program motto and special FIU brand, then these are indeed our astronauts, our explorers, our warrior poets and great trial lawyers of tomorrow.”
The Bedell team was coached by Professor Fingerhut, along with Trial Team alumnus and Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy ARI S. GOLDBERG (COL ’12), of Meltzer and Bell, P.A., in West Palm Beach; Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney PALLAVI GARG; Miami-Dade Assistant Public Defender and Trial Team alumna ELSA FERNANDEZ (COL ’10); Miami-Dade Assistant Public Defender MATT ROGOFF (COL ’13); Trial Team alumna (and Georgetown National White Collar Crime Mock Trial Best Advocate) TERRYANN HOWELL (COL ’15), of Legal Services of Greater Miami; and Trial Team alumnus MIKE RYAN (COL ’10), an Assistant State Attorney in Palm Beach County.
The Trial Advocacy Program is led by Founding DirectorProfessor H.T. Smith and offers a wide range of advocacy courses and opportunities in and out of the courtroom to prepare our student Trial Lawyers-in-Residence with passion and principle, and to be practice-ready upon graduation.