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Lafayette fielded the eighth-place team and two individual award winners in a highly competitive 38-team field at the Brown/Roger Williams Mock Trial Invitational tournament hosted by Brown University Nov. 6-7.

In his first collegiate competition, Andrew Fagal ’07 (Skaneateles, N.Y.), a double major in history and mathematics-economics, joined mechanical engineering major JoeNarkevic ’06 (Ambridge, Pa.) in being honored with a Best Attorney award.

Narkevic’s teammates on the eighth-place team were Dyan Argento ’05 (Pittsburgh, Pa.), a double major in history and German; history major Alisandra Carnevale ’06 (Princeton, N.J); history and government & law major Theresa Giamanco ’07 (Oak Ridge, N.J.); history and religious studies major Natalie Kamphaus ’05 (Athens, Ga.); Marquis Scholar Andrew McCarthy ’05 (Marysville, Ohio), a double major in international affairs and economics & business; and Marquis Scholar Benton Wilmoth ’05 (Marysville, Ohio), a double major in international affairs and government & law.

The mock trial team will compete again when it hosts its first invitational tournament Dec. 3-5.

The fictitious case for 2004-05 is Kissner vs. Polk Hospital, in which the promising young golf career of Tony Kissner has been tragically cut short. What seemed to be a career with nothing but potential is now over because of the actions of a man suffering from a severe mental illness. The competitors work out who is to blame for this tragedy and who will be found accountable for what happened to Kissner.

Reading judges and behaving accordingly is a major challenge in mock trial, says Narkevic.

“The judges always give us feedback at the end of trials, and maybe they’ll say ‘be more relaxed’ or something,” he explains. “So, in the next round I’m more relaxed, but that judge tells me at the end, ‘you looked too smug and relaxed!’ It’s just impossible to please everybody, so I have to try and guess how to act in the courtroom.”

Narkevic enjoys the role of attorney because it allows him more control over what happens in the case.

“The biggest killer for me is when I’m a witness and see our attorneys doing something wrong or having trouble with something I just realized how to solve, but there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s very frustrating, also because I’m a bit of a control freak,” he says.

Including his participation on a nationally competitive high school team, this is his seventh year of mock trial.

“I’ve got lots of experience and know-how, but it is so hard to be recognized and lauded in any role, witness or advocate,” Narkevic says, “so finally winning an award is a good feeling.”

For Fagal, the most challenging aspect of being an attorney during mock trial competitions is “having to think on your feet.”

”Mock trial is as much acting as knowing the ins and outs of a specific case; however, it differs from acting in that there is no set script,” he says. “You may have a general idea of how your opponents are going to try and present their case, but you cannot predict or prepare for every eventuality. It is at these inopportune times when the ability to think on your feet comes into play so that you can object to their line of questioning or form an effective cross examination of the opponents’ witness. Without this ability it becomes increasingly more difficult to convince the judge that the side that you represent is the correct side in the case.”

The student participates in mock trial because of his interest in becoming an attorney.

“I’ve found that I really enjoy the mental challenges presented during competition and having the [chance] to use my wit, guile, and understanding of the case and law to the best of my ability,” he says.

Narkevic enjoys mock trial because it involves his strengths in acting and public speaking.

“For as much work and headache it is, especially eating up whole weekends at a time, I do have fun showing off my stuff out there,” he says.

The mock trial team is advised by Diane Elliott, director for public service at Lafayette’s Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government, and assisted by Carmela B. Karns, administrative assistant. Narkevic appreciates the resources provided to the program.

“Back in high school, if we were in a competition outside of the county the students had to pay their own way,” he says. “But now I get to go all over the place and get big meals and hotels and I don’t have to worry about the cost.”

Fagel agrees.

“Lafayette College really works to make sure that our mock trial program is superb,” he says. “We have two of the most excellent and concerned coaches that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, Diane and Carmela. I believe that they put forth every effort into making sure the team is successful. Diane is more than willing to work with the lawyers and witnesses to ensure that an effective line of questioning is created. And Carmela has gone to every effort to afford the team with the materials necessary to have a successful trial, including the creation of ‘demonstratives’ — basically evidence blown up onto a large piece of poster board that looks really great during the trial — and a trial notebook.”

In addition to participating in mock trial, Fagal is a member of College Republicans, Social Gaming Network, and Lafayette Communications Union. Last summer, he worked as a law clerk at the Stanley Law Office, a personal injury law firm in Syracuse, N.Y.

“This job really helped me with my understanding of our current case, being that it is a personal injury case dealing with medical malpractice, and with my understanding of the law,” he says. “I plan to work there over the winter break and perhaps over this upcoming summer. It is quite rewarding because I can see that the work I do actually helps people who have been injured and deserve compensation.”

Narkevic is a member of the Residence Hall Council and Anime Club, acted in the College Theater production of Boy Gets Girlthis fall, and was a member of the fencing team for two years.

Categorized in: Academic News