Mock Trial Team hosts Thanksgiving classic

By Alyssa Creamer

After successfully securing third place in this past weekend’s tournament, the University of Massachusetts Mock Trial Team will host this year’s Thanksgiving Classic, a tournament that pits the UMass team against the Northeast’s top university teams once again.

The tournament’s opening ceremonies will take place on Friday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. in Mahar Auditorium. There will be four trials, the first running from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. that Friday night. On Saturday, Nov. 20, the second (from 9 a.m. to noon) and third (from 2 to 5 p.m.) trials will be held. And on Sunday, Nov. 21, the final trial will take place at 9:30 a.m. and run until noon.

According to UMass Mock Trial Team Co-Captain Holly Galvin, the team looks to have another successful weekend, having just defeated an Ivy League team, Princeton, for the first time since the group’s development three years ago.

“Senior Abby McCann, competing in her last tournament as she is going abroad next semester, was an absolute boss,” said Galvin, speaking about the past weekend’s top debaters. “She and senior co-captain Joe Mendes were dominant alongside Alysson Gray. Mendes, Gray and McCann were critical to our one-point win over Princeton, which is UMass Mock Trial’s first-ever victory over an Ivy League school since Columbia law student David Chen founded our program in the fall of 2007.”

UMass Mock Trial has approximately 20 members on its travel roster, along with two student coaches and a number of student volunteers. Student assistant coach Abby McCann will be facilitating this weekend’s tournament with Jenna Ruddock.

Student Legal Services’ Attorney Corey Carvalho, who serves as the team’s coach, helped plan this upcoming event alongside UMass’ pre-law advisor and professor Diane Curtis.

“Our team is in it to win it this year,” said Galvin. “Attorney Carvalho’s increased involvement coaching our program is what has brought us to this level. The captains got together this summer and decided this was our year. We made a very pointed recruiting surge to handpick the type of freshmen our team needed to reflect the culture of intensity Columbia Law [student] David Chen instilled in Joe and I when we started this back in 2007.”

“Hard work and dedication has been instrumental in our recent success, but more so than that, it’s working together as a team that has helped us really improve,” said team co-captain Stacey Hronowski. “In the past we may have been focused too much on individual parts.”

“This year, individuals who weren’t presenting a particular witness still contributed to planning the directs and crosses,” continued Hronowski, “and we were able to use everyone’s input to present the best case possible. I think it really paid off.”

“We’re at the point in the season where we’ve come together as a team,” continued Galvin. “Now we just need to take it to the next level and polish to the point where big wins against programs like Princeton are the norm rather than a first, or an anomaly.”

According to Galvin, the competition will be based upon a civil trial in which a 2-year-old has swallowed a make-your-own jewelry set and passed away from respiratory arrest allegedly from a chemical contained in the set.

“The cases are always so intricate,” said Hronowski, “and there are so many possible scenarios to pursue. It’s really interesting to try up and present the best case you possibly can.”

Every American Mock Trial Association team in the country prepares the same case.

The following schools will be competing in the tournament: UMass, Princeton, Brown, Tufts, Boston University, Dartmouth, Seton Hall, Villanova, Drexel, Trinity, Holy Cross, University of Maine, Roger Williams and Case Western Reserve University.

The 2010 Thanksgiving Classic is sponsored by Western New England School of Law and the Center for Student Development’s ECSA Committee, Advise-In Solutions, Student Government Association, Student Legal Services and the Political Science Department.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at [email protected]