The Saint Vincent College Mock Trial Team traveled to Austin College in Sherman, Texas to compete in the Kangaroo Brawl.
This was the team’s second competition of the year, which put them up against twelve competing colleges. Teams are given identical cases to prepare for the trial.
Michael Arabia, who graduated from Saint Vincent in 2010 and serves as the team’s coach, said that this year’s case was a “criminal case with an attempted murder.” The team is also coached by George Miller.
Teams compete in four rounds —two as the prosecutor and two as the defense. Two judges determine which team, consisting of a minimum of three lawyers and three witnesses, put forth the better argument. Each team at the competition has the potential to win up to eight rounds.
Arabia mentioned about preparing for the event.
“We have to be set and prepared for both strategies because we know we will be called twice as a prosecution and defense,” Arabia said. “The case comes out in early September — late August and we begin preparing essentially from the time we get our hands on it.”
The team competed against four colleges from Jan. 20 to 21. Saint Vincent won three decisions and lost five.
Arabia talked about the team’s performance.
“We were right into the competition until the last round,” Arabia said. “We lost the last round as the prosecution.”
The Kangaroo Brawl presents twenty awards to individual competitors — ten to witnesses and ten to lawyers.
Saint Vincent had three students earn witness awards: Ashley Oravetz, Kyle Donovan and Victoria Culver. The team also included Adam Galaski, William Culver and Brenton Sige.
Victoria Culver, a double major in math and accounting, said she joined the Mock Trial Team this season after filling in as a witness during a team trip to Saint Bonaventure University last year.
Culver expressed her feelings about being presented an award.
“It was pretty cool to win a witness award because it means a lot to know that the judges noticed my personality and the characteristics I have,” Culver said. “It was really nice to hear from the judges, after the trial, that I made them smile the whole time I performed or that I really grasped their emotions whenever I would cry on the stand.”
Culver explained her role for the Kangaroo Brawl.
“I played a witness who was attacked and attempted to be killed on the prosecution and I played the role of a comedic street performer on the defense side. I had a lot of fun playing these two roles because I was more prepared and since I knew how the trials actually worked, I could really get into character with the witnesses I was playing.”
Arabia teaches a course at Saint Vincent called “Trial Advocacy,” which requires students who are enrolled to compete with the Mock Trial Team.
“This class is geared towards the case, with an aspect of teaching students evidentiary rules and the federal rules of evidence,” Arabia said. “It’s also trying to teach them how to make a well-thought out, reasoned argument, whether its in regards to the facts of this case, or any case as a future attorney.”
Culver adds that she encourages students to join mock trial because it is a “learning experience, but it is also such a fun time.”
Arabia said the course “builds speaking skills, confidence and how to think on [your] feet.”
Photo: Adam Galaski