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Lafayette’s Mock Trial Team, in just its second year of competition, won the prestigious Spirit of AMTA Award at an American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Regional Tournament Feb. 23-25 at College Park, Md., and narrowly missed qualifying to participate in 2001 AMTA national championships.

The Spirit of AMTA Award, voted on by tournament competitors and presented by the AMTA, is presented to the mock trial team “that best exemplifies the ideals of Civility, Fair Play, and Justice.”

Lafayette was one of 22 teams participating in the College Park regional, considered one of the toughest of the 16 regional tests held throughout the country to determine qualifiers for two AMTA championship competitions, the National Tournament (formerly Silver Flight Tournament), March 16-18 in St. Paul, Minn., and National Championship Tournament, March 30 to April 1 in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Lafayette’s performance was so promising given the youth and relative inexperience of our team,” says the team’s director, Bruce Allen Murphy, Lafayette’s Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights. “Our time will come, quickly.” The team is coached by Carol L. Wright, Lafayette’s legal studies adviser.

Hosted by the University of Maryland, the two-time defending AMTA national champion, Lafayette’s regional also included several other nationally-competitive teams, including George Washington, Howard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and American, as well as Georgetown, St. Bonaventure, Virginia, Western Maryland, Clark, and William and Mary.

One of the two Lafayette teams entered in the regional just missed qualifying for the national tournaments. The all-sophomore contingent of Megan Cottrell (Doylestown, Pa.), Katie Crisafulli (Flemington, N.J.), Seanna Dyer (Portland, Maine), Cherish O’Donnell (Toms River, N.J.), Kim Posocco (Scranton, Pa.), Erin Reynolds (Larchmont, N.Y.), Sarah Rosenzweig (Columbia, S.C.), Sarah Stocker (Harrison, N.Y.), and Robin Yudkovitz (Westfield, N.J.) was one of only four undefeated teams after the first two rounds of the tournament.

“In the final two rounds, facing nationally-competitive George Washington and highly regarded Clark University, both of whom qualified for the national tournaments, Lafayette lost all four ballots, three of which were lost by only 15 points out of a total of 840 in the rounds,” Murphy says. “The team’s 4-4 record, against the strongest competition in that bracket, put it in the ‘next out’ position for qualifiers to the national tournament.”

A second Lafayette team included sophomores Greg Emrick (Pottstown, Pa.) and Brian Heyesey (Hightstown, N.J.) and first-year students Rachael Blackman (Warwick, R.I.), Jen Carton (Interlaken, N.J.), Jon Evenden (Ridgewood, N.J.), Rob Fallone (Bridgewater, N.J.), Beth Ponder (Collegeville, Pa.), Bill Simmons (Trenton, N.J.), and Adrienne Stark (Oxford, N.J.).

“This team, with two sophomores and the rest in their first year, showed great promise in its first appearance in regional competition,” Murphy says. “They took two ballots from the University of Virginia at Wise, and tied a ballot with Western Maryland College, while narrowly losing to two William and Mary teams. Great things are expected of this group in the future.”

Individually, Cottrell, Fallone, Heyesey, O’Donnell, Reynolds, Simmons and Stocker were named as Top Attorney in one or more rounds. Dyer, Ponder, Posocco, Rosenzweig, andYudkovitz were named Top Witness in one or more rounds.

Mock trial is a simulation of a bench trial (a trial before a single judge) based on a hypothetical legal case in which teams of six to eight students each take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses.

“This year’s case concerned the tragic loss of attorney P.J. Gilbertson on a Mount Everest climb led by Roge Holman’s ‘Everest Expedition’ company, resulting in a negligence civil suit by Gilbertson’s grieving widow, Merritt,” Murphy explains.

The AMTA was founded in 1985 to give undergraduate students an opportunity to learn first-hand about the work of trial attorneys, understand the judicial system, develop critical thinking, and enhance communication skills.

Previous 2000-01 Report:

Lafayette’s mock trial team got off to a smashing start in its first tournament of the 2000-01 season, being named “Outstanding New Program” at the Loras College Invitational in Dubuque, Iowa, Jan. 25-28

Categorized in: Academic News