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Syracuse University to host Finger Lakes Regional Mock Trial Tournament Feb. 16-18
Syracuse University to host Finger Lakes Regional Mock Trial Tournament Feb. 16-18February 13, 2007Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences will host an American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) regional tournament, the Finger Lakes Regional Tournament, Feb. 16-18. This is the first time that this prestigious competition will take place in Syracuse. Trial competitions will take place at various locations on the SU campus Feb. 16 and 18 and at the Onondaga County Courthouse on Feb. 17. SU’s Mock Trial Program is part of iLEARN, an all-University program hosted by The College of Arts and Sciences.
Nearly 300 students will be on campus for the tournament. Harvard University will have four teams participating; Cornell University and the University at Buffalo will each have three teams participating. Two teams each from SU, Colgate University, Hamilton College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Rochester and Binghamton University, as well as one team each from Brown University and St. Bonaventure University, will also take part.
The top teams from each of the AMTA’s 20 regional tournaments will advance to national competitions. AMTA allocates “bids” to the national tournaments based on the competitiveness of the teams assigned to the regional tournaments. SU is one of only four of the regional tournaments assigned five bids.
The SU Mock Trial Team was founded in 1999 and has been invited to compete in a national competition every year. During the 2001 season, the SU team won the national tournament and then advanced to the national championship, where it won first place in its division. “Much of the team’s success is due to Kevin Kuehner L’99, who has been senior coach of the team since it was founded,” says Kandice Salomone, director of the iLEARN Program and associate dean for administration in The College of Arts and Sciences.
The Mock Trial Program gives undergraduate students an opportunity to learn firsthand about the fundamentals of trial advocacy and the work of trial attorneys, the inner workings of the judicial system, as well as the opportunity to develop critical thinking and communications skills. The Syracuse University Mock Trial Team is open to all SU and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry undergraduates and is sponsored by the iLEARN Program.
“The Syracuse University Mock Trial Program provides a unique and deeply collaborative learning experience that former team members have described to me as one of the most influential experiences of their undergraduate career at SU,” says Salomone. “We are proud of the many students who have represented the college and SU at regional and national competitions. It is the hard work and commitment of these students, and the dedication of an outstanding group of coaches, which has brought national recognition to such a young program as ours.”
AMTA holds three national competitions every year: two national tournaments and one national championship. The top three teams from the Finger Lakes Regional Tournament will advance to the national championship at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Fla., April 13-15. The fourth- and fifth- place finishers will advance to the national tournament at Northwestern University in Waukegan, Ill., March 16-18. The winners of the national tournaments will advance to the national championship in St. Petersburg as well.
Each year, AMTA publishes a “case” to all member schools. The case alternates between criminal and civil, and is made up pleadings, affidavits from witnesses, evidence and motions. Each team uses the case materials to prepare for trial. At competitions, each team takes the position of one side of the case and argues against another team that is representing the opposing side of the case. Participants use a modified version of the Federal Rules of Evidence when arguing for the admission of evidence and testimony. A judge scores the participants on their presentation and courtroom skills.
“The program, including the competition, gives students an opportunity to learn the essentials of trial advocacy,” says Iman Abraham ’03, L’06, a local attorney and assistant coach of the Mock Trial Team. Abraham was also a member of the Mock Trial Team as an undergraduate at SU. “They become better advocates for whatever it is they choose to fight for in their future endeavors.”
“It is a very exciting opportunity for our program and for Syracuse,” says assistant coach Julia Joyce, a first-year student in the Syracuse University College of Law who is serving as the tournament coordinator. “We have been strong competitors for years, and this competition gives the SU Mock Trial Program additional national recognition.”
“By choosing Syracuse University to host a regional competition, AMTA isrecognizing the commitment that the University has shown to itsstudents,” says senior team coach Kevin Kuehner. “The College of Arts and Sciences has given the program unwavering support, and because of this commitment we now have former team members studying at dozens of different law schools across the county. We have former team members working in several of the largest law firms in the country and as prosecutors in Florida, Maryland and New York. Syracuse is committed to truly preparing its students for law school, and it shows.”
During the 2006-07 season, the SU Mock Trial Program became a recognized student organization with SU’s Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning, with endorsement by both the undergraduate and graduate student associations. Additional support for the regional tournament comes from the Student Association, the Office of Student Life and the College of Law.
iLEARN supports a variety of innovative educational programs in the college. It also serves as a clearinghouse for information about undergraduate research and other unique learning opportunities, as well as a source of encouragement and support for their further development. iLEARN helps students complement traditional classroom and laboratory work with enhanced out-of-classroom learning experiences. These experiences represent active learning at its best, tapping students’ creativity, curiosity and drive. These experiences also allow students to apply their theoretical knowledge and skills to current social issues, and help them think wisely about future career choices.
For more information about the SU Mock Trial Program and iLEARN, visit http://ilearn.syr.edu.