By Ethan Kibbe, ’18
After winning the Northeast regional competition last year, St. Bonaventure University’s Mock Trial team entered this year with high hopes.
To train for this year’s regional competition, held Feb. 20-21 at Buffalo State, the team attended numerous invitational tournaments.
In the fall, they traveled to Drexel, American and Colgate universities. They even hosted a tournament. This spring, the team competed at Cornell University.
But while the Bonnies were unable to win back-to-back regional titles, they were presented with the American Mock Trial Association’s Spirit of AMTA award.
The award, which is decided by the other competitors in the tournament, goes to the team that best exemplifies the ideals of civility, justice and fair play. The team’s adviser, Dr. Steven Nuttall, was impressed with the award.
“I was very pleased with the performance and very proud of the students’ performance in all of the tournaments they competed in but especially in the regional tournament; they represented St. Bonaventure very well,” said Nuttall, professor of philosophy.
“I think this award is, in my eyes at least, an acknowledgement of our team’s living in accordance with the university’s values of individual worth and respect for the dignity of others, even your opponent.”
The members of the Mock Trial team are seniors Sebastian Bellm of Mishawaka, Ind., Daniel Kerns of Apalachin, Steven Kibbe of Harrison Valley, Pa., Arin Liszka of Depew, Alexander Noguerola of Lowell, Mass., and Jessica Ungaro of Grand Island; sophomores James W. Cook of Brockport, Maria Dispigno of Port Washington, and Samantha Harrienger of East Greenbush; and freshman Keegan Miller of Armbrust, Pa.
Despite failing to advance past the regional level, Nuttall believes that the Bonnies performed well and credits the team’s dedication and hard work.
“It was close,” he said. “Had we just gotten a few points here and there that went the other way, we could have come out in much better shape. In a tournament, a lot depends upon which opponents you face at certain points throughout the tournament. We happened to go up against Yale as our very first opponent. We lost that round, and that set the stage for subsequent rounds, but overall, we did a really good job.”
By participating in the Mock Trial club, students are taught the basics of litigation, the components of a trial and how to prepare for a trial by taking part in simulated trials. Students learn rules of procedure and the rules of evidence. They are made to prepare opening and closing statements and must think quickly to react to the moves of their opponents.
“It also teaches students verbal skills, and it requires that students think quickly and clearly,” Nuttall said. “Students must be organized and create a plan of action for how to prevail in the competition.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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