The Huntington mock trial team is now 2-0 this winter.
The Huntington mock trial team is now 2-0 this winter.

Blue Devil Mock Trial Team Has Fast Start

February 16, 2024

Huntington’s defending county champion mock trial team is off to a fast start to the 2024 season. The Blue Devils topped John H. Glenn and West Islip in the first two of four scheduled meets.

The team is comprised by a spectacular group of students, who are guided by volunteer legal advisor Xavier Palacios and faculty advisors Suzi Biagi and Bryan Outsen.

“As we walked up to the doors of John H Glenn High School for our first match of the season you could sense the nervousness in the air as we were without Suffolk Mock Trial Attorney of the Year Angie Hernandez-Ramos for the first time,” said Mr. Outsen. Ms. Hernandez-Ramos graduated last June and has gone off to college, but she left behind a very skilled group of team members.

With a new criminal case this year and three brand new members starting for the defense side of the case, “we didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as the match began, the reigning Suffolk County champs were back!”

Junior Elizabeth James set the tone with a brilliant opening statement outlining the needed legal parameters for a charge of arson and was able to start the Blue Devils off with a lead that they never gave up for the remainder of the match.

Freshman Eli Levi got his first start as attorney and did “a fantastic job with both of his examinations as well as protecting his witnesses with suitable objections during cross,” Mr. Outsen said.

Freshmen Nallely Linares Guardado and Julia Goodwin both took the stand as witnesses in their first ever match and were impressive in their ability to remain calm during cross examinations and successfully elaborate their roles on direct examinations.

“The future looks very bright for this program,” Mr. Outsen said. Junior Lindsay Depeine starred as the lead witness for the defense and displayed her talent against John Glenn’s lead attorney by showcasing perfect knowledge of her affidavit while maintaining a sense of civility the entire trial.

Junior and mock trial club co-president Isabella Careccia-Johnson sealed the deal for Huntington with a marvelous delivery of her closing statement, commanding the attention of the entire courtroom while showing the judge that the prosecution failed to meet the burden of proof in the case. When the final numbers were tabulated, Huntington had a two point season-opening victory.

The close victory in the season opener led to a lower than usual ranking for Huntington, which set the stage for the second match at West Islip.

“It was our lowest ranking in two years,” Mr. Outsen said. “With heavy hearts we were without the heart and soul of our team; Ms. Biagi, so we dedicated this match to her son.”

The case was led off by senior Hillel Linker, last year’s Suffolk Witness of the Year, who made the transition to attorney this year after months of hard work and training. He delivered a compelling opening statement with poise and compassion that drew the attention of the judge early in the courtroom battle and gave the Blue Devils an edge.

Junior Natalie Parrott also made the jump to attorney this year and not only flawlessly delivered the preliminary arguments, but presented a furious and relentless cross examination that proved the attorney bench is where she belonged.

“Our witness lineup was led by junior Elizabeth James, our only competitor who has roles on both sides of the case, as lead prosecution witness Kelly Severide, who charmed the judge while disrupting the opposing attorney during cross examination,” Mr. Outsen said.

Returning junior Vincenza Garofalo took the stand with a smile on her face and comfortably delivered an eloquent direct examination, while also controlling the pace of cross examination. Freshman Alexandra Bockemann took the stand for her first match ever as the only freshman on the prosecution side of the case and fit in like a veteran member. Facing off against a strong West Islip attorney, the teenager never faltered and was able to dominate cross examination capping off a dominant day for the Huntington witnesses.

Junior and club co-president Nina Fascilla displayed her confident leadership throughout the match, helping both new attorneys with possible objections during testimony and later offering a commanding closing statement for the prosecution.

“Nina’s nine minute delivery of a legal masterpiece wowed the judge and both sides of the case while showing that the prosecution indeed met their burden of proof to find Lindsay Gordon guilty of arson,” Mr. Outsen said.

The judge gave Huntington a double digit convincing victory to lift the Blue Devil record to 2-0. The Blue Devils will host Miller Place on February 28.