The Huntington High School mock trial kicked off the season where it left off last spring. Winning. The Blue Devils toppled host Kings Park to start the 2019 campaign in fine fashion.
After capturing the Suffolk championship and closing the season at the state finals with the No. 3 ranking in New York, Huntington’s legal squad is back in action. The team is anchored by returning veterans John Panos, Lia Shechter, Lena Annunziata, Joseph Mead, Riley Tucker and Isabella Floro.
Even with all of that intellectual firepower, the Blue Devils still consider this in many ways to be a rebuilding year since there are 14 freshman on the team.
Now in its fifth 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.
The current year’s statewide legal case involves an Article 78 proceeding whereby the petitioner, Harley Davison is challenging Gotham City’s denial of her application for succession rights to her aunt’s rent controlled apartment based upon the city’s claim that she failed to establish proof that she lived with her aunt for a requisite period of time.
The Blue Devils are led by volunteer legal advisors Xavier Palacios and John LoTurco, who have spent endless hours working with this year’s team. New to the legal staff is Joseph Bavaro, who is also volunteering to sharpen the courtroom skills of the Huntington teenagers. Huntington High School teachers Sarah Buchalter and Suzette Biagi are also back as the team’s faculty advisors.
In the match against Kings Park, the Blue Devils represented Gotham City as the respondent. Huntington turned in an impressive performance, especially considering it was the opening trial of the season.
Huntington juniors Lena Annunziata and Joseph Mead and freshman Erin Ye served as the respondent’s attorney. Ms. Ye’s brilliant opening statement, delivered with poise and passion, set the tone for the entire trial.
Mr. Mead’s entire performance from direct examination, cross-examination and arguments during the objection stages demonstrated a sharp intellect and a commanding and confident presence in the courtroom. Ms. Annunziata’s blistering cross-examination of the petitioner’s fiancé established her as an intimidating advocate and her highly persuasive and comprehensive closing argument sealed the victory for the Blue Devils.
Huntington’s three freshmen witnesses in the trial against Kings Park included Jillian LoTurco, Emily Geller and Tallulah Pitti. Each of the teenagers were composed, articulate and never buckled under the pressure of intense cross-examination. They delivered a message to Suffolk County that although the Blue Devil team is young, it has an exceptionally talented group of freshmen that should allow Huntington to continue to be a highly competitive program for years to come.
“This year’s team has grown exponentially and now has 22 dedicated members,” Ms. Biagi said. “They are quite a sight to behold entering the courtroom. We are so happy for all of them.”
The opening legal battle of the season whetted the intellectual and competitive appetites of the new team members. “I felt like I was in an actual courtroom,” said freshman Christopher Maichin, who is currently training to be a witness for the petitioner. “It feels great to be part of it all.”
Huntington hosts perennial county powerhouse East Islip on Wednesday, February 13 at 3:30 p.m. in the School Heritage Museum – Room 140. The Blue Devils will represent the petitioner in the trial.
Huntington’s attorneys for the “Week II” competition will be John Panos, Lia Shechter and Riley Tucker. The witness lineup includes Isabella Floro, Christopher Maichin and Ethan McGuinness.