Needham High School [pictured above] won the title of 2002 Mock Trial State Champion in the 17th annual competition held March 26 in the Great Hall at historic Faneuil Hall, Boston. The runner-up team was Holy Name Central Catholic High School of Worcester.
Needham High School is now eligible to compete in the National Championships, May 9-12, 2002 in St. Paul, Minnesota, hosted by the Minnesota State Bar Association and Minnesota Law-Related Education, Inc.
"I've been a judge for 25 years, and this is some of the best lawyering I have witnessed," said the Hon. Roderick L. Ireland, Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, who presided as the finals judge.
The members of the Needham High School team are: Seniors: Carrie Andered, Jen Clarkson, Katie Kilkelly, Scott Klei,man, Dav Pulver, Julia Bergeron, Brian Newbury, Andrew Tanner; Juniors: Jen Goldman, Rachel Books, Ali Laks, Elyse Winer, Tom Adjamian, Anne Coppola, Tony Faynberg, Kristin Kelleher, Jonathan Silver; Sophomores: Jaboc Teplin, Marion Herrick, Nicky Berman, Victoria Fener. Teacher coach: Bob Baker. Attorney coaches: Gary Crossen, Mary Jo Johnson, Dan Matthews, Jennifer Adreani, Sarah Theall.
Team members from Holy Name Central Catholic High School are: Michele Belair, James Caputo, Aliki Drakodaidis, Christie George, Kathleen Halloran, Daniel Luperchio, Ai Vi Nguyen, Robert Oftring, Tania Palumbo, Angela Romeo, Jamie Spears, Matthew Tozer, Elisa Ventriglia, Jeremy Weldon. Teacher coach: Jonathan Meagher. Attorney coach: Elizabeth Morse.
The annual Massachusetts competition this year drew 103 high school teams from across the state. The event is organized by the Mock Trial Committee of the Massachusetts Bar Institute, a supporting organization of the Massachusetts Bar Association and is sponsored for the fourth year in a row by the law firm of Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP. More than 200 members of the MBA -- attorneys and judges -- volunteered to participate as coaches and judges this year.
"Even though we heard the arguments and selected a state champion today," said Massachusetts Bar Association President Carol A.G. DiMento, of Swampscott, in her opening remarks, "Mock Trial is not really about who wins or loses. The aim of Mock Trial aim is to provide each student with a chance to grow as an individual – to grow as someone who is able to work with and support others, as an informed citizen who understands our legal system, and as a future leader who will use those skills to improve the lives of others in his or her community.
"These goals," said DiMento, "are achieved when each student participates at any level of the program. That is why I am proud to say that every student who took part in Mock Trial is a winner."
Edward J. Hermann, MBA special projects coordinator said, "I couldn't be more thrilled with the level of participation and solid performance of all teams in this year's program. At this level of the competition, both teams should consider themselves champions."
This year's case involved a severe injury to a star batter during a championship softball game. The plaintiff batter claims the pitcher's coach directed the pitcher to injure the batter. The pitcher has stated that if subpoenaed to testify, the pitcher will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify. The claims include negligence, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
"The case hinged on whether the plaintiff could show direct evidence that the defendant ordered the pitch," said Judge Ireland in announcing his verdict. "As good a job as (the plaintiff) did in showing a link, I have to side with the defendant."
Judge Ireland praised both teams for their opening statements, their knowledge of the rules and handling of cross examinations and for being well prepared and well coached. In selecting Needham High School as the winner, Judge Ireland said, "This is one of the hardest decisions I've had to make. I have to say the plaintiff won by just half a point. But in my opinion, both teams are winners."
As a Mock Trial Committee member and volunteer judge, MBA member Arthur Carakatsane was a firsthand witness of teams in action throughout this year's competition. "The consistent participation among the students, increasingly experienced coaching and terrific dedication of the teams produces wonderful trials year after year," Carakatsane said. "I'm continually amazed at how these students do and how well they completely grasp the materials. I find that even with the complexity of issues presented in this year's case, the students continue to exhibit outstanding talent."
William B. McDiarmid, chair of the MBA Mock Trial Committee, participated as a trainer in this year's orientation for Mock Trial judges. "While the mock trials are fun and educational for everyone, including the attorney judges, it was gratifying to see how many members of the bar were willing to devote their time to a voluntary training session so they could better perform for the students," McDiarmid said.
Additional information about the Mock Trial Program is available online at www.MassBar.org/Mock.