Over the past two Sundays, Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, DRS High School, and Rambam Mesivta participated in the first-ever Yeshiva Invitational Mock Trial Tournament. The tournament, hosted by MAY, was based on last year’s New York State High School Tournament case. In the end, MAY edged out Rambam for first place.
That case concerned criminal charges against a hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) company and its CEO, alleging it contaminated the drinking water supply by recklessly using unauthorized fluids. For purposes of the competition, the result of the case itself is of no consequence. Rather, teams are judged on a variety of factors such as their trial-practice acumen in executing opening statements, direct and cross examinations, closing arguments, and making and responding to evidentiary objections. Teams are also scored on witness preparation and credibility.
The idea behind holding a fall competition in advance of the statewide tournament, which begins the first week of February, was to begin building the skillset necessary to meaningfully compete in that event. On the importance of having such a foundation, MAY’s mock-trial team captain Dani Feit said, “As a returning member of last year’s team, I know how important it is to have practical experience. The Yeshiva Invitational provided an opportunity for students new to mock trial to acquire that experience.” MAY senior Daniel Guttman agreed, “It puts you in a position that forces you to think on your feet, which really cannot be obtained in any other way.”
Tournament director David Kirschner, who also serves as attorney-adviser for MAY, was excited about having the tournament, a sentiment he said was expressed by all who participated, students and coaches alike. But exposing students ahead of the statewide tournament was not the only objective. While most of the Jewish parochial schools participate in it, many yeshivos throughout the area do not. As Mr. Kirschner put it, “The skillset of sharp analytical ability, clear and precise communication, and a poised presence is indispensable regardless of whether students become lawyers, doctors, business entrepreneurs, or rebbeim.” Kirschner explained how a yeshiva tournament is the perfect opportunity for yeshiva students not competing in the statewide tournament to acquire those skills. Planning for recruitment in next year’s tournament is already underway.
MAY expresses its thanks to the volunteer judges for the tournament: Brendan Ahern, associate at Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon, LLP; Steven Epstein, partner at Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon, LLP; Michael Berardino, partner at Mangialardi & Berardino; and Daniel Maurer, deputy commissioner, NYPD Judge Advocate’s office.
Congratulations to MAY, Rambam, and DRS on their strong performances, and hatzlachah to all the teams participating in the 2015 statewide tournament.