Students take part in FDU's first mock trial team
College at Florham Senior Melanie Schulman was part of the university’s first Mock Trial team, and here recounts the team’s experience at its first competition.
This year, Fairleigh Dickinson formed its first Mock Trial team. Headed by seniors, Melanie Schulman, Amberle Hammick, Christine Martin, junior Gabriella Lopez, and sophomores, Ibn Alston and Cargill Hutt, the newly formed team traveled to its first competition at Yale University on February 8-9. Over twenty teams came to New Haven to compete in this highly competitive regional tournament.
The competition consisted of four trials over a two-day period where the team competed as both the prosecution and defense in a complicated criminal case. The team met over twelve judges – lawyers throughout the tri-state area who offered significant advice on how to proceed with the competition as well as real-life litigation suggestions (e.g., where a lawyer should stand in the courtroom, when evidence can be admitted, etc.). Not only did the team put up a good competition for other schools, but they impressed everyone who was able to view or take part in their trials. This was evident through the comments collected from the various judges as well as statements by the opposing attorneys. Several judges remarked that the FDU attorneys were “excellent, poised, clear” and strong and confident.”
From left to right: Cargill Hutt, Gabriella Lopez, a judge from the American Mock Trial Association, Melanie Schulman, Ibn Alston, Amberle Hammick, and Christine Martin.
Every school that took part in the Yale University competition had great sportsmanship and truly appreciated the chance to compete in such a highly competitive and organized tournament. FDU’s initial hesitancy at being a newly formed team quickly dissipated when they realized that all the students at the American Mock Trial Association competition had the same ambitions, ivy league or not. This ambition reassured the team that dedication and hard work can achieve greatness.
This competition proved to be a growing experience for all team members, not only academically but personally.
“It not only confirmed my interest in law, but allowed the team to obtain necessary litigation and public speaking skills,” said Schulman, the 2014-15 Mock Trial captain, “I was able to see what the law looked like in practice.”
Gill Hutt reiterated this sentiment, explaining that “I loved the trial process and felt a new self of confidence about my litigation abilities.”
The Mock Trial team is excited to continue to grow in the upcoming academic year. The team has already doubled its participation and plans to possibly have a Mock Trial class in the fall. In addition, the team has established contacts that will allow it to scrimmage local schools to obtain more preparation for the 2015 regional tournament. The FDU Mock Trial team is dedicated and excited to prove that it is a formidable competitor in the upcoming competitions.