Huntington High School’s mock trial team is two-for-two after defeating host Rocky Point last week.
Huntington played the role of the defense in the second match of the season, representing the City of Dover while Rocky Point represented plaintiff Robin Berkman. The case is playing out across the state as mock trial teams vie against one another from one end of New York to the other.
The Huntington team preps for many hours each week with district residents and local attorneys Xavier Palacios and Jack Piana, sharpening their courtroom repertoire. The two Huntington High School alums have taken a new group of mock trial participants and already brought them to surprising heights after most of last year’s highly regarded team graduated and headed off to college.
“Our team expertly responded to objection after objection as they defended their client in an intense battle that caught everyone’s attention from the very first moment of the trial,” said Huntington business teacher Suzie Biagi, who serves as the team’s faculty advisor.
Sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, the mock trial competition draws thousands of participants from several hundred high schools. “This year’s trial has been challenging, yet most enjoyable for the students of Huntington,” Mrs. Biagi said.
Huntington’s defense team consisting of juniors Max Robins and Alyssa Befumo and senior Sam Biblow shined, deftly handling their witnesses played by freshman Paul Katigbak, sophomore Rory Bocelli and senior Hannah Baptiste.
“All of our witnesses held their own as the other side attempted to impeach their testimony,” Mrs. Biagi said.
“The evidence was overwhelming,” said Detective Leslie, the role played by Mr. Katigbak. By the end of last week’s competition, there weren’t many dissenters from that opinion.
“Our defense team has mastered the many rules of using objections when challenged by their opposing counsel,” Mrs. Biagi said. That helped Huntington accumulate valuable points.
The defense’s direct exam questioning was flawless as it carved out important details through the testimony of the witnesses. “When the time came to cross examine the plaintiff’s witnesses there was no doubt that our defense was prepared with the stronger case,” Mrs. Biagi said.
Huntington and Rocky Point argued the case before William DeVore, a deputy bureau chief in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. “He patiently presided over his court often using the time to make every second count as he mentored the young people during the proceedings,” Mrs. Biagi said. “His understanding of the case and the high schoolers was evident as he oversaw the courtroom procedures with compassion and grace.”
Huntington will host perennial state power Ward Melville on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in Room 201. The classroom has been outfitted with a lectern, judge’s bench, witness stand and even a jury box.
“We are looking forward to the challenge and feel prepared thanks to the countless hours of mentoring by our legal advisors, Messrs. Palacios and Piana,” Mrs. Biagi said.