For the first time, Buffalo State’s mock trial team was eligible to compete in the opening round of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Championship Series Tournament.
Buffalo State hosted a regional AMTA tournament in February where the mock trial team received an “open bid” to the championship series held in Washington, D.C on March 22 and 23. “You could compare an open bid to getting a wild-card spot in the NFL playoffs,” said Jon Lines, lecturer of political science and head coach of the mock trial team.
Marco Santiago, a senior majoring in political science, received a “best attorney” award at each of the four competitions he attended. Santiago, who transferred to Buffalo State with plans to become a police officer, has decided to take the LSATs. “I had never even thought about becoming an attorney until I came to Buff State,” Santiago said.
As practice for the competitive regional tournaments, mock trial invitationals are held by participating colleges. Buffalo State’s team attended two such events in fall 2013. At the second invitational, held at St. Bonaventure University, Buffalo State took first place. Santiago and senior Kate Marinelli, team captain, received best attorney awards, and Michelle Imafidon, a sophomore majoring in political science received a best witness award.
“Our team had three outstanding coaches,” said Santiago, who also praised his teammates and the team captain. “Two are attending UB law school: Henry Zomerfeld, a Buffalo State grad, and Jessica Noto, a Seton Hall grad. Jon gave us everything we needed, including his extensive knowledge and outside help when we needed it.”
Among the help Lines secured were two local attorneys: Joseph Maruzek, a former associate district attorney, and Ron Scott, who recently retired after 28 years with the National Labor Relations Board. “We’re very grateful for their time,” said Lines.
In Washington, D.C., Buffalo State competed against some of the nation’s top mock trial teams. Santiago presented closing arguments for both the prosecution and the defense and received the outstanding attorney award along with competitors from Rutgers, Penn State, and Princeton.
Isn’t it hard to present closing arguments for two opposing sides? “You have to know both sides of the argument well enough to show a deficiency in the other side,” replied Santiago. “There are two sides to a pancake; you have to be able to flip it no matter how thin it is.”
The Mock Trial team will be recruiting members for the 2014–2015 team. Students from any major are welcome.
Pictured left to right Buffalo State mock trial team members who took part in the Washington, D.C. Opening Round Championship Series Tournament: Michelle Imafidon (witness); Kate Marinelli (team captain, lead seat attorney, opening attorney); Marco Santiago (attorney, closing attorney); Amanda Darcangelo (witness), James Wilkins (witness), Safia Hosein (team captain), and Ryan Berglund (mid-seat attorney).