Real Justices Preside over Mock Trial Team’s Scrimmages

February 21, 2013 | Queensborough Community College

More than 30 students from Queensborough Community CollegePace UniversityThe City College of New York andQueens College participated in Mock Trial scrimmages, held on Saturday, January 26 in the Administration Building at Queensborough.

For a full day, four teams conducted two trials each before four QCC faculty “judges” as well as the Honorable Neil R. Finkston, Justice, Justice Court, Village of Great Neck Plaza; and the Honorable Richard Kestenbaum, Acting Justice, Justice Court, Village of Great Neck Plaza. In their black judicial robes, the justices offered advice to student counsel and occasionally, challenged their arguments.

Mock Trial“Trying a case in front of a real judge is exciting and nerve-racking,” said Shirley Aguilar, one of the captains of the QCC Mock Trial Team. “I had to find a balance between being appropriately combative and respectful while having a firm handle on the federal rules of evidence.” Last year, Shirley was awarded one of the Outstanding Witness Awards at theAmerican Mock Trial Association (AMTA) New Haven Regional tournament at Yale University.  The students who participated in the scrimmages represented the attorneys for both the plaintiffs and the defendant, while other team members played the parts of expert and fact witnesses.

The QCC team participated in additional scrimmages at Pace University on February 2, in which teams from QCC, Pace, Hunter College and New York City College of Technology competed.

The scrimmages were in preparation for the New Haven AMTA Regional tournament at Yale University, — rescheduled because of the blizzard—to take place on February 23-24.  Subsequently, the top seven teams— out of a total of 21 participating teams – will qualify to compete in the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) of the AMTA tournament to be held in Philadelphia in March.  The top six teams from each ORCS tournament around the country will advance to the National Championship Tournament in April.

QCC Professor Kelly Ford, of the Business Department and a faculty advisor/coach said, “Scrimmages have a profound effect on building self-confidence and accelerating the learning process.”   Faculty advisor/coach, Professor Stephen Hammel agreed commenting that “scrimmages are the best way the students can prepare for the actual tournament.”

Professor Leslie Francis, another advisor/coach for the Mock Trial Team, added, “The students spent a great deal of time preparing for the scrimmages and it showed.”  His colleague, Professor Ted Rosen stated “Justices Finkston and Kestenbaum were very impressed.  Justice Finkston offered to help with practices before the Yale competition.”

This is the sixth year QCC is participating in the AMTA tournament.  In 2012, over 530 mock trial teams competed from approximately 350 undergraduate colleges and universities, including approximately four two-year colleges.

In past years, QCC team members have won three Outstanding Witness Awards.  In addition, in three separate regional tournaments, the QCC team has received The Spirit of AMTA Award, which is presented to one team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play and is awarded based on ranks given each team by their opponents.

The student members of the QCC Mock Trial team are Shirley Aguilar, Benjamin Alagna, Julie Ann Belaustegui, Zymeena Chavis, Jia Cheong, David Quan, Chaojun Dong Ross, Chen Tao, Steven Telemaque and Frank Wu.

Faculty members of the Business Department who served as judges for the scrimmages are Professors Christine Mooney, Ben Murolo, Linda Meltzer and Kathleen Larkin. Dr. Jonas Falik, Business Department Chairman and Professor Glenn Burdi attended the scrimmages to show their support for the student participants.

The faculty advisors/coaches of the QCC Mock Trial Team are Professors Kelly Ford, Leslie Francis, Stephen Hammel and Ted Rosen, all of whom are faculty members of the Business Department.