National Trial Team Takes First Place Regional Competition
This weekend was a thrilling ride ending victoriously with our Trial Advocacy Team taking first place.
The weekend win was a first for Duquesne. The other law schools in our region are Drexel, Temple, Villanova, Seton Hall, Penn State, Dickinson, Widener, U-Penn, and Pitt. The team will represent the school in San Antonio next month for the national finals. They were all totally dedicated to our goal of taking the region and making the short list of invitations to San Antonio. Thank you all for your support of our students!
Said alumni coach Bob Daley, L'98, "While yesterday's performance was amazing, today against Temple, I saw one of the best trials I've ever seen, including real life. Sam and Erin again competed and it would be difficult for me to come up with any negatives, and the superlatives were many. I thought we were better in all phases of the trial - and believe me, that's an amazing thing being that we competed against Temple's number 1 team, who were fantastic in their own right. "
Our 3L Team of Samantha Kovalyak, Erin Corcoran, and Travis Gordon defeated Widener, Dickinson, and Penn State (semis) to advance to the finals against Temple. We drew the defense case, so Sam and Erin were the advocates for the final round. Sam's performance was especially off the charts, resulting in her winning one of the two Best Advocate awards for the entire competition. Notably, Sam threw off Temple by moving for a mistrial after they allegedly violated a judge's ruling! Obviously one could not be granted in a mock trial, but her ability to think on her feet pushed us above the competition.
Our 2Ls, who had never competed before, James Campese, David Martin, and Gerard Hornby went 2-1 in the preliminary rounds (defeating the other Widener team and U-Penn) but lost to Villanova. They were eliminated based on points.
And for a front row seat, read the reporting on Saturday's competition by Alumni Coach Bob Daley, 'L98...
Duquesne was represented in the semi finals by Erin Corcoran and Samantha Kovalyak.
The Duquesne squad got off to a quick start in Motions in Limine when the successfully excluded key prosecution evidence. Perhaps rattled by the pre trial rulings, Penn State gave a solid, but not spectacular opening. Erin continued the momentum with an awesome opening, which in my humble view propelled the squad to a solid early lead.
The first witness was a police officer who did an admirable job on penn states direct. But the direct was no match for Sam's cross, which in my view had him so stymied by the end he would have answered yes to any question she asked. I believe she literally could have asked him if his opinions were written by kittens (no offense to kittens) and he would have said yes.
Next, came the defense toxicologist. Again, Penn State did an admirable job on direct.
Except....the part where Erin got all of his opinions stricken because of his failure to adhere to expert testimony standards. After the judge kindly allowed Penn State to reopen its direct to fix that problem, Erin crossed her with both vim and vigor.
The trial then moved on to the defense case. The first witness on direct was the defense toxicologist. Erin hit all right notes, and succeeded, during Penn States cross in striking their main theory on blood alcohol. Again, Penn State looked forlorn. If law doesn't work our for Erin (which it will) she could probably be a forensic toxicologist.
Next, Sam called the defendant. Being that Sam was defending a woman who may have killed two people (or maybe not) but who definitely made a bunch of really bad decision, she hit all the right notes, making her seem somehow sorry for her wrong decisions, but defiant that she didn't kill anyone. Cross exam by Penn State was, in fairness, effective, but The defendant held her own.
Perhaps sensing the situation, Penn State closed first, and fire and vitriol flew. The closing was effective...until Sam stood up, and slowly and methodically picked the prosecution apart. By the time she was done, and penn State stood up to close, it was desperation time. Though they tried hard, they were not up to the task, and our squad coasted to a 4-1 victory. How we lost that 5th ballot (by one point) is anyone's question, but a win is a win is a win.
I'm very proud, along with Andrew Rothey, Maggie Cooney and Anthony Hassey to be part of this special group. Special shout out to our 2L squad, who faced 3 third year teams and went 2-1 but didn't advance. We face a tough Temple squad tomorrow, and since we're a good Catholic institution all prayers and good wishes that we do our best performance. As I said to the team "You only put on your best trial once." Let's pray it's tomorrow. - Bob Daley, L'98
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.
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