Huntington High School’s mock trial team has quickly gained a reputation as one of Suffolk’s best. The current squad is engrossed in preparation for the coming season.
Now in its fourth year of existence, the Huntington courtroom team is expected to again challenge for top county honors. The mock trial competition is sponsored by the New York State Bar Association Foundation. The initiative seeks to enhance participant’s public speaking skills and inspire some to consider a legal career.
Huntington High School alums and practicing attorneys Xavier Palacios and Jack Piana serve as the team’s legal advisors. Teachers Suzie Biagi and Sarah Buchalter are the group’s faculty advisors.
“The students have been meeting after school on Thursdays, practicing direct examinations and delving into the complicated objections and procedures they will need to become experts in order to succeed,” Ms. Buchalter said.
Teams across New York State will receive the 2018 case this week. “From there we will begin intensive sessions to prepare for the competition,” Ms. Buchalter said. “With most of the team returning this year as well as newcomers eager to make their mark, it is looking to be another exciting season for the mock trial warriors.”
Participating teams have a schedule of four regular season matches before entering the Suffolk tournament. Teams across New York follow a similar path along the way to determining a state champion.
The New York State Bar Assn. Foundation believes the mock trial program “teaches students ethics, civility and professionalism; furthers students’ understanding of the law, court procedures and the legal system; improves proficiency in basic life skills, such as listening, speaking, reading and reasoning; promotes better communication and cooperation among the school community, teachers and students and members of the legal profession, and; heightens appreciation for academic studies and stimulate interest in law-related careers.”
Students learn about the rule of law; rules of evidence; proper courtroom decorum; legal terminology and civic responsibility and attitude. Participation “fosters” respect for the law and the legal system and an ability to view an issue from differing viewpoints.
The Huntington mock trial program was founded in 2015 by Justin LoTurco. He’s now a junior at Duke University, but the initiative he helped launch has only grown deep roots in the high school.
Huntington senior Max Robins, who is president of this year’s mock trial club likes how the team has been shaping up. “Once we receive our case we will start intensive preparation,” he said. “I am confident that we’ll be a strong force in the competition.”