Mock Trial Team Student Wins an Outstanding Witness Award at New Haven Regional Tournament

February 28, 2013 | Queensborough Community College

Queensborough Was Among 21Teams from 16 Colleges and Universities at the Competition

Mock WitnessLike all of his teammates, Benjamin Alagna studied diligently to prepare for the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Regional tournament at Yale University, held on February 23 and 24. To portray a US Coast Guard investigative officer/witness for the plaintiff in a wrongful death case based on the death of a scuba diver during a diving expedition conducted by the defendant diving company,, Benjamin  conducted extensive research, poured over the “official” Coast Guard report and other relevant documents  and arrived in “court” in full dress uniform.

His appearance was so striking and his demeanor and performance so convincing that judges in two separate rounds asked him whether he was really in the armed forces.  His mastery of the issues and superior performance on the stand earned him one of the Outstanding Witness Awards. Last year, Shirley Aguilar, one of the captains of the QCC Mock Trial Team, was awarded one of the AMTA Outstanding Witness Awards at the Yale University tournament.  It was Shirley, who as an “attorney” on the QCC team, conducted the direct examination of Benjamin in each of the two rounds in which he testified as “Coast Guard Special Agent Carey Connor”.

“I wanted to represent QCC to the best of my ability,” said Benjamin, who also participates on the Fed Challenge Team and the Automotive Club. “To have an experience where you compete with prestigious schools and meet new people is a privilege.”

A business major, Benjamin plans to transfer to a four-year CUNY school in the fall to double major in finance, investments and accounting.

The QCC team competed in four rounds during the tournament.  In each round, the team conducted the trial of the same case – which is tried by all teams competing in the nationwide AMTA tournament.  Like all teams in the Regional Tournament, QCC tried the case twice from the plaintiff’s side and twice from the defendant’s side. In rounds against Quinnipiac University and Southern Connecticut State University, the QCC team earned a win from one of the two scoring judges in each round.  In its trial against the University of New Haven, QCC earned a tie from one of the judges.  QCC also conducted a highly competitive trial against the University of Pennsylvania team which went on to finish in second place in the 21 team tournament which also included teams from Yale University, Boston College, Wellesley College, Brandeis University, Lafayette College and Swarthmore College, among other colleges and universities.

This was the sixth year that QCC competed in the national AMTA tournament and the third year that it has competed at the Regional conducted at Yale.

Professor Ted Rosen stated “My fellow faculty advisors/coaches, Professors Kelly Ford, Stephen Hammel, Leslie Francis and I were extremely proud of all of our students on the team. They have been working very hard preparing for this tournament since September, meeting on most Saturdays for weekly practice sessions of at least three hours.  Their performance as “lawyers” and as “witnesses” during the tournament was excellent.”  Professor Ford commented “In each round, our students appeared poised and professional, while demonstrating substantial knowledge of the facts and law applicable to the case.”   Professor Hammel noted that “all of the teams in the Regional Tournament – except for QCC – were from four year colleges or universities.” Professor Francis added that “our students were highly competitive in all rounds of the tournament and came away from the weekend with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for a job well done.”

Mock Trial TeamThe 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.

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.