This past fall semester the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center fielded teams at a number of prestigious interscholastic trial competitions across the country, earning winning results at many.
The Moore Advocates opened the season with a trip to Alabama for Faulkner Law School’s Mockingbird Trial Competition, which took place September 28–30. 3Ls Christina Costello, Eliza Barrocas, Juliana Suleymanov, and Caitlin Hickey reached the quarterfinals of the competition.
At the brand-new Martin Luther King Civil Rights Trial Competition, hosted on October 12 by the UC Hastings School of Law, 3L Lauren Riddell won an award for best direct examination. Competing alongside Riddell were 3Ls Ashwin Iyengar, Christopher Pedro, and Morgan Schaffer.
The center also fielded a stand-out team at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office Criminal Trial Competition, held October 27–28. At this tournament, teams were given a month to prepare a full trial for each side of a case: an opening, motions in limine, two direct examinations, two cross examinations, and a closing. The team went undefeated through the first two preliminary rounds of the tournament, submitted the top score in the semifinal round, and came within a hair’s breadth of winning in the final round, ultimately finishing in second.
For 3Ls Mary Cate Simeone and Valerie Sakellaridis, teammates on the Queens DA team, the competition was especially fruitful. Sakellaridis’ performance played a significant role in landing her a job as an assistant district attorney at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.
“I’ve known I wanted to be an ADA since I came to law school,” said Sakellaridis, who serves as managing editor of the Moore Advocates. “It was thrilling and humbling to know that my future employers hired me, at least in part, because they saw me compete in their courtrooms.”
“Being a part of the Moore Trial Advocacy Program has been the most rewarding part of my time at Fordham,” said Simeone, who is currently editor-in-chief of the Moore Advocates. “This program takes everything you have learned in your first-year courses, criminal procedure, and evidence classes, and makes sure you know how to apply those skills in a courtroom setting.” As editor-in-chief, Simeone is responsible for overseeing the 95 students in the program, and making sure all the logistics (e.g., alumni relations, interschool competitions, travel accommodations, etc.) run smoothly. Simeone will be working as an ADA at the Manhattan DA’s office after graduation.
Competing alongside Simeone and Sakellaridis were 3Ls Leanne Fornelli and Thomas Arning.
At the Nov. 9–10 Buffalo-Niagara Trial Competition, the single largest trial competition in the country, 2L Michael Lovitch won best opening statement for the entire tournament. He was joined by 2Ls Sarah Stein, Katherine Ann Boy Skipsey, and P.J. Benasillo, making the quarterfinals as a group.
“I was really proud to have been able to bring back some recognition for my teammates and coaches,” said Lovitch of his award. “And of course I was proud to represent Fordham and bring back a win for the School.”
Also notable was the center’s presence at the ABA Labor Competition – New York Regional, which took place November 17–18. The all-woman team, which finished in second place, was composed of 2Ls Nicole Rubin, Eartha Jn. Baptiste, Lauren Scully, and Ashley Meadows.
Meadows noted that preparation for the competition was “substantive but also performative,” as participants in trial competitions are judged on tone and professional demeanor, in addition to the strength of their argument.
“To a large extent, likability and credibility come from performance,” said Meadows.