They’ve never spent a day in law school yet, but the members of Huntington High School’s mock trial team move about the courtroom pursuing their legal goals like seasoned attorneys. They really do.
These are remarkable teenagers by any measure. They have helped elevate the Blue Devil squad to one of the state’s perennial best. Members of the group don’t pull any punches when they discuss what they are all striving to achieve; county and state titles. It won’t be easy and they know it.
Huntington’s mock trial club is led by co-Chairmen Lia Shechter and John Panos, President Riley Tucker and Vice Presidents Lena Annunziata and Joe Mead.
“We’re working hard and we can’t wait to start competitions,” Ms. Shechter said. “I’m very optimistic about this year.” The Blue Devils are scheduled to hold a scrimmage at the high school on Tuesday.
The New York State Bar Association Foundation sponsors and coordinates the state’s mock trial program. The organization sends high school teams the annual case, which centers on either civil or criminal law and related procedures. This year’s case is especially complicated and it resulted in a massive corrective memo that necessitated the Blue Devils work harder than ever.
“With competition just two weeks away, the team is working vigorously to memorize, perfect and execute our material,” Ms. Annunziata said. “The New York State Association, which issues our materials, just released a massive correction memo that significantly changed the case. In response, we have been working just that much harder to be ahead of the competition. I personally cannot wait to see all of our hard work and effort pay off once trials begin.”
District residents Xavier Palacios and John H. LoTurco are once again leading the team during its preparations as its volunteer legal advisors. Huntington High School teachers Suzi Biagi, Sarah Buchalter and Gregory Dieterich serve as the team’s faculty advisors
“We are looking really good this year,” said sophomore Christopher Maichin, who fills the role of one of the Blue Devils’ key witnesses. “Ever since the new case for this year came out, everyone on the team has been working really hard; learning the facts as well as memorizing everything for everyone’s specific roles. There was a huge correction memo that the New York State Bar Association sent out that altered a lot of the facts of the case, but we adapted and have been working constantly to factor in these major changes and we are coming out of it even better than before.”
Huntington’s home courtroom is located in the School Heritage Museum (room 140) at the high school. Mr. Palacios donated a substantial sum to purchase the courtroom’s furniture.
“Mock trial is looking great,” Mr. Panos said. “The team is stronger than ever and we are ready to face whatever is put before us. I know both the prosecution and defense are well prepared and I am very excited to see what the future will hold.”
Then Huntington High School senior Justin LoTurco founded Huntington’s mock trial team during the 2014/15 school year. The team’s first victory came in February 2015 when it toppled Mattituck. In its short history the program has won a county championship and advanced to the state finals where it finished No. 3.
Huntington will open the competitive season on February 5 at Commack. The Blue Devils host Northport on February 12 and Newfield on February 26. Huntington travels to Smithtown East on March 4. Playoff rounds will follow.
“The team is working really hard in preparation for our first competition,” Mr. Tucker said. “Everyone seems really motivated to make this one of our best years yet and both Mr. LoTurco and Mr. Palacios seem very confident in the team’s ability to achieve.”