The Huntington High School mock trial team came within a proverbial whisker of defeating powerful Northport and advancing to the Suffolk title match, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Yet the Blue Devils aren’t about to relinquish their dreams of county and state championships; only putting them on hold until next year.
Huntington advanced to the Final Four match-up with high hopes and the team performed well against highly regarded Northport, which is a perennial county power.
The Blue Devils received spectacular performances up and down their lineup, from the witnesses to the attorneys.
Jillian LoTurco started Huntington out strong with a moving opening that piqued the entire courtroom’s attention as she produced a confident delivery and convincing summary of the defense side’s case. The teenager’s cross examination skills were equally impressive, as she wasted little time handling her witness, displaying a sense of expertise.
Angie Hernandez Ramos was once again on point, leading the beginning of the witness cross examinations. Although only a sophomore, she displayed a deep understanding of the legal objections and rules of the court.
Emily Geller also displayed her special knack for legal argumentation in her deft handling of her witness on cross examination and added a strong application of key objections throughout the trial. Her closing was equally impressive as she delivered it with poise and passion, telling both a moving story and laying out the legal parameters for the Blue Devils’ argument.
Witness Chris Maichin was a star for the defense as entrepreneur Tony Triacon. Often regarded by many judges as a true actor, the junior has delivered performances worthy of Academy Awards. His performance was nothing short of Oscar worthy as he gave a realistic recollection of his life as a 52 year old music manager and business owner.
Sophie Laserson also turned in another superb outing as witness Andy Anderson, a financial advisor, performing with ease while being cross examined by Northport’s opposing counsel. Her confidence was evident, as she explained how IPO’s work among other financial investments.
Finally, Molly Fallon played an excellent Robbie McLaughlin as she wove in key points for the defense with ease and composure. Her soft spoken demeanor made her testimony all the more believable as she discussed her character’s affidavit. Even on cross examination the teenager was even keeled and poised, providing responses that left opposing counsel on their toes.
Huntington reached the Suffolk Final Four after turning back a stiff challenge from well-prepared John H. Glenn. The Blue Devils had their hands full, but came through when it counted most to advance to the county semifinals.
Local attorneys and district residents John LoTurco and Xavier Palacios worked with the Huntington team for months to prepare for the season and individual matches against opposing Suffolk schools. The two have been volunteering for many years, devoting hundreds of hours to team members.
Huntington alum Sabrina Palacios, who graduated last spring from the University of Pennsylvania and who was recently accepted into the Cornell University School of Law, provided substantial assistance to the Blue Devils as an intern.
The team’s faculty advisors are business teachers Suzi Biagi and Gregory Dieterich. The pair handles school day details and coordinates the team’s activities.
The Blue Devils are already organizing for next year. The entire team expects to return. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the team to operate on a remote basis this year. Three hour prep sessions weren’t for everyone so several veterans opted not to participate, but advisors hope they will all return for the 2021/22 campaign.
Current J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth graders are being encouraged to consider participating in the Huntington mock trial program next year as high school freshman. Advisors and returning team members say the eighth graders will be welcomed with open arms next fall.
The open invitation to participate extends to high school students, too. No one is turned away by the mock trial team. Interested? Send a message to either Ms. Biagi (email@example.com) or Mr. Dieterich (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Many program alums have moved on to some of the top colleges and universities in the country and some are now in law school or studying at highly regarded graduate business schools or pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in other academic disciplines.