Nov. 17, 2014 | Volume XXII, Issue 14

Trial Team advances to finals in multiple competitions

Published: April 7th, 2014

Category: Feature

Story and photos courtesy of the UF Trial Team image

The University of Florida Trial Team had a successful year in competitions around the nation. Below are some of the highlights:

Peter James Johnson National Civil Rights Trial Competition

In the fall, UF’s Trial Team sent Dane Hepner (3L), Justin McConnell (3L), Katrina Self (3L) and Brittany Smaridge (3L), coached by local attorneys Nick Zissimopulos and Tania Alavi, to compete at the Peter James Johnson National Civil Rights Trial Competition hosted by St. John’s University School of Law in New York. The team advanced to the final four round beating out 16 of 20 teams.

Florida Justice Association’s E. Earle Zehmer Memorial Mock Trial Competition

In the fall, UF’s Trial Team sent two teams to the Florida Justice Association’s E. Earle Zehmer Memorial Mock Trial Competition in Tampa hosted by the Florida Justice Association. One team consisted of Kathryn Bennett (3L), Logan Doll (3L), Michael Tricoli (3L) and Lauren Humphries (2L) and the second team consisted of Joseph Herro (3L), Daniel Jensen (3L), Kelli Sutton (3L) and Gabriel Gonzalez (2L), coached by local attorneys Roger Hatfield and Daniel Vazquez. Herro, Jensen, Sutton and Gonzalez advanced to the final four round beating out eight of 12 teams and beating the University of Miami.

The Florida Bar’s Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition

In the spring, UF’s Trial Team sent two teams to the Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition in Tampa hosted by The Florida Bar. The first team consisted of Kathryn Bennett (3L), Michael Tricoli (3L), Christopher Caproni (2L) and Christopher Gage (2L) and the second team consisted of Dane Hepner (3L), Katrina Self (3L), Shayna Finkelstein (2L) and Elliott Mitchell (2L). The teams were coached by local attorneys Aaron Kelley and Kristofer Eisenmenger.  Bennett, Tricoli, Caproni, and Gage advanced to the final four beating out 16 of 20 teams. Hepner, Self, Finkelstein and Mitchell advanced to the final eight, but lost to Stetson in a tie-breaker.

Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition

In the spring UF’s Trial Team sent two teams to the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition Regionals in Montgomery, Ala. The first team consisted of Justin McConnell (3L) and Kelli Sutton (3L) and the second team consisted of Gabriel Gonzalez (2L) and John Kelly (2L). The teams were coached by local attorneys Darby Hertz and Whitney Untiedt. McConnell and Sutton made it to the semifinals beating out 15 teams from around the region, advancing over longtime rival Stetson University.

American Association for Justice’s National Student Trial Advocacy Competition

In the spring UF’s Trial Team sent one team to the American Association for Justice’s National Student Trial Advocacy Competition in Fort Lauderdale. Logan Doll (3L), Dane Hepner (3L), Stephanie Moncada (3L) and Katrina Self (3L) were coached by local attorneys Nick Zissimopulos and Tania Alavi. They beat teams from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

South Texas Mock Trial Challenge

trialteamsouthtexas Joseph Herro (3L), Ryan Nagel (2L), Lauren Humphries (2L) and Michael Tricoli (3L) competed against 30 trial teams from around the nation at the Harris County Courthouse in Houston. Nagel and Herro represented the plaintiff, Denny Duquette, a man in need of a heart transplant. Humphries and Tricoli represented the defense, a government organization that regulates the transplant process in the United States. At issue in this case was whether the government acted correctly in denying Duquette a heart transplant after learning Duquette’s father provided money to the organ donor’s family. More than 20 teams were eliminated from competition, but the Florida Law Trial Team proceeded to the octofinal round against Stetson University College of Law. In the octofinals, Nagel and Herro eliminated Stetson from the competition. In the quarterfinal round, Humphries and Tricoli competed in an extremely close competition against the University of Georgia School of Law. The jury found for plaintiff, and the University of Georgia advanced to the finals and won the competition. UF Law was honored at the South Texas Challenge awards banquet for competing in the Quarterfinal Round. Tom Farkash and former trial team President Jennifer White served as coaches, helping the team prepare over the last eight weeks.

The Florida Law Trial Team is proud of its achievements.

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