Barry University School of Law Mock Trial Team was victorious on Sunday at the 2021 Honorable. E. Earle Zehmer Memorial Mock Trial Competition in Jacksonville, FL, sending two teams to the finals.
Weeks of preparation paid off with a Barry Law vs. Barry Law final round, with the plaintiff team narrowly edging out the defense team with a 2-to-1 ballot victory. The teams were coached by alumnus Chris Gonsalves, an associate in the Orlando office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., and Judge Mike Kraynick, a Circuit Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
The Florida Justice Association sponsored the state-wide competition, the first in-person mock trial competition in Florida since February 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We're so proud of our students and thankful to our coaches, both of whom worked tirelessly to achieve this historical win," said Barry University School of Law Dean Leticia M. Diaz.
Judge Kraynick noted it was the first time Barry Law sent two teams to the finals in 23 years the school has had a competitive trial team.
"The students' hard work and dedication should be lauded for their unprecedented successes this past weekend," Judge Kraynick said.
The plaintiff team in the final round consisted of Courtney Crossley and Jonathan Vega as attorneys, with Jonacé Telfer and Matthew Keller as witnesses, and Ruth Gomez as an alternate. The defense team in the final round featured Hannah Shanley and Luke Dill as attorneys, Amal Aoun and Cameron Bullock as witnesses, and Louis Torretta as an alternate.
In addition, Jonacé Telfer and Cameron Bullock were named best advocates in the preliminary rounds, while Hannah Shanley won the overall Best Advocate award for both the preliminary rounds and the final round.
Mark Summers, the trial team faculty advisor, said, “We knew they were good, but not that good.”
Only two members of the team had participated as advocates in an extracurricular competition. In preparing for the competition, the students spent seven weeks preparing for the complex case, which centered around a negligence claim against a 28-year-old driver who struck a 6-year-old boy with his car, and an affirmative defense of contributory negligence against the boy's parents. The case was replete with conflicting facts, and featured a battle of two expert witnesses whose conflicting testimonies clashed over complicated calculations of speed, distance, and time.
The Barry Law teams were the only teams to go undefeated in the entire competition. The first team defeated Florida State University and St. Thomas University in the preliminary rounds, and the second team defeated Stetson University and St. Thomas University. In the semi-final round, Cameron Bullock and Amal Aoun, advocates for plaintiff, soundly defeated a team from St. Thomas while Jonacé Telfer and Matthew Keller prevailed over a Stetson team.
The Barry Law Trial Team will next compete in Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar, Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition in Orlando on January 20-23, 2022.
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