Heschel School Wins First New York State Mock Trial Tournament in School History
The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan beat The Mount Academy in Esopus, Ulster County, to win the 2023 Mock Trial State Competition. The two squared off in the final round today at the James T. Foley U.S. Courthouse in Albany, after beating out six other regional winning teams in the state semi-finals on May 22.
The ceremonial courtroom on the 4th floor courthouse on Broadway was packed with students and coaches from those semifinal rounds to watch the final round of the tournament sponsored by the New York State Bar Association.
For months, these high school teams have worked endless hours preparing the hypothetical case of Remington Stone v Marley Miser. The civil case centers around who is responsible for an accident on a construction worksite. The plaintiff, Remington Stone, suffered burns from a fall off a ladder onto a wet surface near a live wire. Her legal team claims her employer on the construction site is to blame. The defendant, Marley Miser, claims the plaintiff caused the accident and should accept personal responsibility.
In the early rounds of the Mock Trial competition, teams prepare and execute the case from both the plaintiff and the defense sides. In the final round, a coin toss decides which side each team will represent. The Mount Academy team took on the plaintiff role, and the Heschel School took on the defense.
For more than three hours, the high school students presented their cases as lawyers, witnesses, and researchers. They presented exhibits, examined and cross-examined witnesses and responded to each side’s objections. Judge John P. Cronan, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, announced Heschel as the winning team just before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday after praising both teams for their skill and preparation. “These skills will serve you well in your future,” he said.
Following the trial, both teams celebrated a hard-fought case and praised the challenge and dedication of the opposing team.
Eight regional teams competed in the May 22rd semifinals. The regional champions are Frewsburg High School, Huntington High School, Augustine Classical Academy, Hunter College High School, W.T. Clarke High School and Maine-Endwell High School. In all, the mock trial program has 400 high schools with 4,000 participants each year.
The Mock Trial Tournament was created by the New York State Bar Association in 1978, and the first statewide tournament was held in 1982. The New York State High School Mock Trial Tournament is one of the largest in the country. It is administered by NYSBA’s Committee on Law, Youth and Citizenship and supported by the New York Bar Foundation.