Trial Team Defeats Harvard, Georgetown to Win National Championship

Trial Team Defeats Harvard, Georgetown to Win National Championship

Paul Lefton


Barry University School of Law’s Trial Team won first place at the Puerto Rico Trial Advocacy Competition (PRTAC), held October 30 - November 1 at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico School of Law in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Student advocates Amanda DunnLuis Herrera, James Smeriglio III, and Christina Figueroa represented Barry Law in the competition. They were coached by Barry Law alums Jordan Ostroff ('12) and Denise Kim Beamer ('09).

In the first round, Barry Law’s advocates defeated Harvard Law School with a unanimous jury verdict. In the second round, Barry beat the host Interamerican University of Puerto Rico team with another unanimous verdict, securing the No. 1 seed heading into the semifinals.  There, Barry's State team (represented by James Smeriglio III and Christina Figueroa) received another unanimous verdict. And in the final, Barry Law’s Defense team (represented by Luis Herrera and Amanda Dunn) continued their dominance, sweeping Georgetown Law with a 4-0 jury verdict. 

Luis Herrera received a perfect score and won Best Overall Advocate out of the 48 competitors.  Christina Figueroa and Luis Herrera each received an honorable mention for having two of the best closing arguments of the competition.

The PRTAC, regarded as one of the most prestigious trial advocacy competitions in the United States, was hosted by the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico School of Law and its Trial Advocacy Association, and sponsored by the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Federal District Court for Puerto Rico and the Federal Bankruptcy Court for Puerto Rico.

As winners of the competition, Barry Law’s team receives an automatic invitation for the ABA/John Marshall Law School National Criminal Justice Trial Competition in Chicago, March 19-21, 2015.

Back-to-back achievements 

The victory in San Juan marked Barry Law's second strong showing in as many weeks. The Trial Team advanced to the Semifinals at the 3rdannual In Vino Veritas Golden Gate University School of Law Criminal Mock Trial Competition in San Francisco in October. The competition included 16 teams from 16 law schools. 

In the preliminary rounds of the Golden Gate competition, the Barry Law team – Alyssa Kersey, Kerece Grant, Devan McGowan and Jocelyn Paiz – defeated teams from Pace University and Faulkner University law schools.  Barry’s team advanced to the quarterfinals as the No. 1 overall seed. In the quarterfinals, Barry defeated Creighton University 3-0.  In the Semifinals, Barry faced off against American University and lost a close round.

Alyssa Kersey was honored as a best advocate for receiving four perfect scores on judges' ballots, including three in one round.  Jocelyn Paizwas also honored for receiving a perfect score on a judge's ballot. 

Barry Law's Golden Gate team was coached by Barry Law and Trial Team alums Melissa Alfonso and Michael Cahill.