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Mock Trial returns for third shot at national championships

April 2, 2019
group photo of mock trial team, with one member holding a trophyMembers of the University's 2019 Mock Trial Team are ready to return to the Mock Trial Association's National Championships for the third year in a row.

For the third consecutive year, the University of Rochester’s Mock Trial team is headed to the American Mock Trial Association’s national championship. Out of 700 teams in the league, they will be one of the select 48 competing at the championship event from April 4 to 7 in Philadelphia.

“For us to go for a third year in a row means a lot of people are putting in the effort and doing their jobs strategically really well,” says two-term president Deisy Abarca-Espiritu ’19. “It means we have a lot of nationally talented members.”

Rochester will compete in four rounds against four other teams, alternating between playing the roles of the defense and the plaintiff in this year’s national championship case. The case, Empower Milk vs Jerri Anderson, follows fictional company Empower Milk’s attempt to sue a social media influencer for defamation after she posted an unsubstantiated claim about their product which then experienced a decrease in sales.The outcome of each trial in the tournament will be decided by a panel of legal professionals including lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

While the case is fictitious, the teams use real case law and rules of evidence modeled after the Federal Rules of Evidence that govern courtroom procedures.

In addition to Abarca-Espiritu, Rochester’s team includes Denis Lomakin ’20, Alan Boka ’20, Tinashe Marera ’20, Emily Murphy ’19, Sydney Goldstein ’22, Meghan Yahrussi ’20, Samantha Myers ’19, Lucy Oh ’22, and Hannah Brennan ’19.

As one of the four seniors on the team, Myers is proud of her time on the team and of how far they have come—ranked 78th nationally in 2015 to 28th in 2018. Individually, Myers won an award for “Outstanding Attorney” at the recent semi-finals event in Hamilton, Ohio. “What I feel most proud of though,” says Myers, “is how the environment of our organization has changed. Mock trial has transformed into a group that will welcome any and everyone, regardless of where they come from or what knowledge or skills they have, and will provide them with an opportunity to learn and develop themselves both as public speakers and as people.”

While many teams at the national competitive level have faculty or alumni coaches, the University’s Mock Trial team is completely student-run.

“It takes a lot of effort,” says Abarca-Espiritu, “but the reason we’ve been able to do it is because we really care about each other and we give each other the feedback we need to be competitive in trial.”

As the championship looms closer, Abarca-Espiritu wants her team to know its worth. “We have the ability to beat any team that we’re up against. We’ve shown already how talented we are and I’m excited to show that again.”

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Category: Student Life