From left: Kate Wasson, Joseph Murante, Jaclyn Emm, Kitt Jordan, Alexandra Jameson, Alexandra Garcia, Rajan Gupta, Ayanna Hayes, Annabelle Dunn and Edward Sullivan.
Seton Hall Mock Trial's season kicked off with a competition at La Salle University in Philadelphia. The team placed third overall and three members took home individual awards for their presentations during trial.
Freshmen Meghan Looney, a diplomacy major, and Ciana Vrtikapa, a diplomacy, philosophy and classical studies triple-major, were presented individual performance awards for their roles as witnesses. Junior Joseph Murante, an economics and finance double-major, finished the competition with 19 ranks, one short of a perfect record, and qualified as the highest-ranking witness at the competition.
The Seton Hall Mock Trial team competed against students from Temple University, Dickenson College, Scranton University and Drexel University. Last season, the University's Mock Trial team had several victories of note, including at invitationals hosted by Quinnipiac University, American University and the University of New Hampshire.
This season's opening Invitational at La Salle University was both the earliest competition available in the season and the earliest tournament in which the team has ever participated. In addition to a number of individual victories, the Seton Hall team placed third overall.
"The fact that Seton Hall Mock Trial placed third overall, despite not having the amount of time we are accustomed to for preparing, I believe is a strong indication of the success we will see this year," said Edward Sullivan, president of Seton Hall Mock Trial. "I look forward to seeing the members showcasing their talent and furthering the name of Seton Hall throughout the east coast."
The team's competitive roster introduced a record number of freshmen this year, and includes Annabelle Dunn, Ayanna Hayes, Kitt Jordan, Alexandra Jameson, Kyle Penny and Kate Wasson. Freshmen, in fact, compose the majority of the team.
The six freshmen were not the only new members, however. The team welcomed two new coaches: Professor Ivan Saperstein and Professor Rebecca Girardin '18.
Saperstein has been a trial attorney for several years and has a practice in New York City; he teaches in the College of Communication and the Arts, focusing on courses in media law. With the Mock Trial Team, Saperstein hopes to translate his professional experience into guidance for the team's members.
Girardin is a recent Seton Hall graduate and now professor in the Department of English. The Seton Hall alumna is a seasoned mock trial veteran. Having competed all throughout her college career, she is now prepared to continue in her dedication as a coach.
Seton Hall Mock Trial also receives guidance from faculty advisers Jon Radwan, professor in the Department of Communication, Journalism and Public Relations, and Robert Pallitto, J.D. chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.
The Mock Trial Team has expanded over the course of the last two seasons. In 2017, in the midst of the team's growing success, the Provost's Office granted the request of the team's executive board for official affiliation with the University.
As a recognized team, Seton Hall Mock Trial was given greater access to resources - allowing them to better compete and even expand. Additionally, with four faculty members providing advisement, the team has a strong support system in place. Students from across the University are encouraged to join and participate.
"The members of this team have varying interests and this is evidenced by the wide range of majors the students have chosen," said Girardin. "Mock Trial is an intellectual activity that appeals to students, regardless of their aspirations for law school. The presentational, analytical and collaborative skills they form today will serve them tomorrow in their respective industries."
The La Salle University Invitational is the first of many competitions this season. Seton Hall Mock Trial will go on to compete in tournaments hosted by the University of New Hampshire, Temple University, Rutgers University and Rochester University.
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