On May 16, Our Lady of Victory (OLV) school in Floral Park sent two teams to participate in the 2015 Catholic Middle School Mock Trial Program hosted by St. John’s University School of Law and organized by St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope Regional School. Fourteen schools and more than 200 students participated in the program.
At issue in the trial was whether the distracted driving of one teen, causing the death of another teen, rose to the level of manslaughter.
During the course of preparing for the trial, OLV’s 6th, 7th and 8th grade students analyzed different aspects of the case. The students were briefed on the applicable law and were taught the technique of asking witnesses questions.
As a group, they assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the case and learned how to handle the good facts as well as the bad facts. They had the chance to see the law in action and to begin thinking critically about the law as a force for social good. The students practiced public speaking and with each week, their self-confidence grew.
This year’s team was moderated by Miss Mangione. The team consisted, representing the prosecution were: Victor Colonna, Brendan Connolly, Liam Dolan, Haley Houghton, Maria Krug, Emily Lynn, Edward McCann, William McGovern, Helen Moloney, Megan O’Donnell, Eamon Reilly, Nicole Rodgers, Luke Salazar, Emma Sasso, William Schafrick, Monika Sweeney, Christine Telfort, Amarilis Thompson, Brendan Troy, Colleen Tuffy, Vern Valdueza and John Zarnowski. The defense was: Ashley Caturano, Randolph Charles, Caroline Chun, Michael Constable, Kevin Dolan, Jade Eze, Bridget Farrell, Caroline Farrell, Lauren Firoz, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Justin Jean-Francois, Adrian Harmaty, Liam Hill, Daniella Iannello, Christopher Killen, Ashley Lareche, Tara Mansfield, Rebecca Meier, Joseph Merino, Anthony Rodgers and Robert Sullivan.
The students practiced in the Floral Park village courtroom, coordinated by Judge Doug Hayden. While practicing, the students received trial tips from Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Weiss. After listening to each side present its case, he offered some practical advice using examples from his own litigation experience.
Weiss’s guidance helped the students to focus on the most important parts of their role in the trial. His visit was exciting for all and the team is grateful for his contribution. In the end, the judge found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to community service.