The Mock Trial Team is on its way to compete in the Open-Round Championship against the best teams in the greater northeast after winning in both the annual Bobcat Invitational hosted by the Quinnipiac School of Law and the prestigious Regional Competition hosted by American University. The team has competed in six events so far this academic year and has brought home awards from four of them. The win at American University has qualified them to compete in Delaware at the Open-Round Championship this upcoming March.
Mock trial is a competitive style of debate that is participated in by thousands of high school, college, and law school students each year. Last August, the American Mock Trial Association released a 150-page case that focused on an attempted murder charge. Since then, teams across the nation have studied every piece of the criminal case, including evidence, testimony and case law, to create their arguments for the competition's judges and juries. Each trial is three hours long and scored by two judges who are often law school students, practicing attorneys or sitting judges. Mock trial competitions take place over two days. Over the course of those two days (normally the weekend), four trials are held, during which the teams send in representatives for the prosecution and defense to represent their clients.
Seton Hall has already argued this case, with success, against a number of other schools, including Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania and NYU. During the first weekend at Quinnipiac, Seton Hall's prosecution and defense were tasked with four trials against Quinnipiac University, Bowdoin University, Pace University, and Iona College. After four lengthy trials, Seton Hall won in a clean sweep. At the award ceremony, Seton Hall placed third overall among the 20 teams in the competition.
At the regional competition in Washington D.C. on February 3, the pressure was on. As a qualifying competition, only the winners at American University would move on to the next round. Seton Hall Mock Trial Team members rose to the occasion and, arguably, delivered their most eloquent and persuasive presentations of the season. Competing against Rutgers, Kings College, Howard and Fordham University, Seton Hall was awarded a team trophy for its and granted the opportunity to compete in the Open-Round Championship in Wilmington, Delaware on March 10.
Under the direction of alumnus and Coach Michael LaValle'11, the team has seen great success; over the past year, the Seton Hall Mock Trial Team's position in the national rankings have jumped dramatically.
"This year's Mock Trial Team is potentially the best Seton Hall has ever had. I attribute their success to passion and teamwork," said LaValle. "Their progress here is not only unprecedented, but also extremely difficult to emulate. The team's hard work and dedication has firmly established Seton Hall as one of the top 100 schools in the nation. I cannot be prouder of them."
"I became faculty advisor for SHU's Mock Trial Team just over two years ago and I am very proud to work with these talented students," said Radwan, associate professor of Communication in the College of Communication and the Arts. "The team voted to formally affiliate with the Department of Communication, Journalism and Public Relations, and this close relationship has greatly benefitted all of us. The research, argumentation, and performance challenges in this sport require strong liberal arts skills, and year after year our team's strong record showcases SHU's educational quality and competitive leadership."
"The SHU Mock Trial Team has had consistent success in tournaments for a number of years now. They are a talented group, and a credit to the school," said Pallitto, chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences.
In previous competitions, the team also took home awards from University of New Hampshire and St. Bonaventure College. Individual members of the Seton Hall Mock Trial team have also brought home awards for their standout roles as attorneys and witnesses. Recipients include team captain Alexandra Garcia, Anna Griffin, Rajan Gupta, Emily Parise and Edward Sullivan.
"After competing for seven years, it is interesting to see how I, along with other participants, have benefitted from participating in these challenges. Mock trial encourages students to step out of their comfort zone; whether that be with public speaking, engaging in debate, or acting," said Alexandra Garcia, who started mock trial completion in high school and has been on the Seton Hall Mock Trial Team since 2015 and captain since 2017. "With each trial we compete in, we are improving skills that can be applied and utilized in the real world. The amount of time and dedication we contribute to this activity can influence one’s work ethic as well, which I think is also important."
In the coming months the Seton Hall Mock Trial Team hopes to build on its success and will continue to compete in invitationals and competitions of increasing difficulty. The goal is to make it to the national competition and compete against the best teams in the nation to further strengthen its reputation as a powerhouse in the competitive debate world. And, of course, win.