Huntington High School’s mock trial team knew it would have its hands full when it squared off against Stony Brook in the first trial of competitive season last Friday afternoon and the Blue Devils weren’t wrong. But the squad rose to the occasion and captured a satisfying victory to propel it into this week’s contest against West Islip.
“Xavier and I knew that Stony Brook presented an enormous challenge as it had numerous returning team members from its highly successful team last year, coupled with the fact that the school offers a mock trial class to its students,” said John LoTurco, who along with Xavier Palacios serves as a legal advisor to the Huntington team. “We knew we were in for a tremendous battle. Moreover, our team was comprised of all untested lawyers and as well as most of our witnesses at the competition stage.”
Once Stony Brook’s lead attorney had completed his intellectual and professional opening statement, the Blue Devils became somewhat unsettled and worried that their opponents could possibly be a little bit too experienced for Huntington’s rather raw squad.
But Jillian LoTurco followed with a poised and flawless opening statement that set the tone for the Blue Devils and was a confidence booster that paid dividends the rest of the way.
In last Friday’s trial, Huntington represented defendants, Robby and Lee McLaughlin, who were being sued by their daughter, Macca McLaughlin, who earned over $4 million as a pop star. Macca claimed that her parents negligently mismanaged her career and imprudently invested guardianship funds into an IPO that crashed. The parents countered that although they were from meager means, they invested heavily in singing lessons, competition fees and all related expenses to invest in their daughter’s career and had no control over the lost investment.
All three of Huntington’s junior witnesses, Molly Fallon, Sophie Laserson and Christopher Maichin were exceptional in their performances. Ms. Fallon portrayed the role of Robby McLaughlin, the mother of the pop star, with grace and poise that perfectly depicted a heartbroken mother who only acted in the best interest of her child.
Ms. Laserson played investment advisor Andy Anderson with confidence, especially on cross examination when her adversary presented her with hypothetical questions that she answered with ease and expertise. Mr. Maichin validated his veteran leadership by immersing himself in his character, playing convicted con-man, Tony Triacon, with flair that clearly had the judge impressed with his humorous character portrayal.
All three Blue Devil attorneys were exemplary in their overall performances. Sophomore, Angie Hernandez-Ramos commenced her first competition for Huntington with a cogent and persuasive preliminary argument. “Angie showed that she would become an accomplished attorney with an overall solid performance throughout her direct and cross examinations,” Mr. LoTurco said.
Ms. LoTurco’s vigorous and commanding cross examination of the plaintiff’s expert financial analyst was a highlight of the trial. Junior Emily Geller was dynamic throughout the competition, including her comprehensive and compelling closing argument, which sealed a very close victory for our team.
“The mock trial team did great against Stony Brook,” Mr. Maichin said. “Everyone did an amazing job, all contributing to the overall success of the team. Stony Brook was definitely one of the most challenging teams we have faced compared to years past and with a ‘newer’ mock trial team, we truly held our own and exceeded our expectations. As we continue our season, I am confident that we will keep doing great in the preliminary rounds and make it far in this year’s playoffs.”
The Blue Devils have been devoting a substantial number of hours to mastering the case materials and their individual roles in the competition.
“The mock trial competition went very well,” said Ashley Genao, who is one of Huntington’s seasoned team members. “Given the circumstances of this year we adjusted well and came through with a win. All the attorneys and witness did and incredible job for our first competition. This week we have another match against West Islip and I expect us to do well. We all have been working extremely hard and will continue doing so. I can’t wait to see how the team grows the rest of this year.”
The Huntington courtroom warriors were pleased with the team’s performance. “The first match of the year went really well and it was a great start to the mock trial season,” Ms. Hernandez-Ramos said.
The Blue Devils continue to have high hopes for the season. The extensive preparations they undertake for each week’s competition assure they are ready for whatever comes their way.
“We couldn’t be happier with how our performance went,” Ms. LoTurco said. “We worked so hard for so long and it really showed when we went against another very well prepared team. Although they were fierce competitors, we all stepped up our game and performed to the best of our ability. As first year attorneys, we were nervous to put our practice to the test, but we are extremely proud of how we did. Witnesses are equally as important as attorneys in this competition and our witnesses were phenomenal. They all maintained their composure and were very well prepared on direct and cross examinations. This truly was a team effort and we plan to keep working really hard over the next week to prepare for our next competition on Friday.”
There is no easy opponent and anything can happen each time a trial commences. The legal advisors and students no this and so they prep for all possibilities.
“During our competition we pulled off an unbelievable victory,” Ms. Geller said. “I am beyond proud of our performance. Each and every member of the team contributed in their own way and we would not have been able to accomplish this without our extreme dedication and hard work. Although this competition isn’t in its typical courtroom setting, we managed to overcome these adversities and work flawlessly at our very first virtual trial. We could not have won without the help of our attorney advisors, John LoTurco and Xavier Palacios. They continue to push us to be the best we can be and we would not be where we are today without them. I am beyond excited for this week’s competition.”
The virtual format is very different than the in-person trials of year’s past. There are new variables that must be taken into account.
“The competition went really well,” Ms. Fallon said. “Since it’s my first year on the team, it was very exciting to see us come together and win our first competition. We all worked very hard so we were satisfied with the results. The advisors were amazing and had us really well prepared.”
The Blue Devils are in the midst of preparations for this week’s match against West Islip.
“We only have two preliminary rounds before heading to the Sweet Sixteen,” Mr. LoTurco said. “In years past, we had four preliminary rounds whereby we were not guaranteed to go to the playoffs, but due to COVID-19, many schools are not participating so all schools will be making the playoffs and the playoffs will be single elimination. Although going into the year we felt we were rebuilding, we now feel confident that we have a highly talented group of students who are diligent, intelligent and driven and could hopefully make a deep run in the Suffolk County playoffs. Although having a virtual competition presents its challenges, it is a great pleasure working with students who are willing to overcome the corresponding difficulties and put in the effort to compete in mock trial.”