Quinnipiac University

Law students shine during mock trial tournament

October 22, 2021

Headshot of students from mock trial

Four Quinnipiac School of Law students took a virtual courtroom by storm and finished first overall in the Midwest Regional for the All-Star National Bracket Challenge.

The QUSL team finished with a flawless 4-0 record after four rounds, won all 12 judge's ballots, and gained a 64-point differential. They are now preparing for the National Championships, slated for November 5th and 6th.

This year's casefile is a domestic violence-turned-murder case.

Emily Lanthier ‘22 and Sarah Smeriglio ‘22 acted as prosecutors, while Alexis Farkash ‘22 and Elizabeth Hrywniak ‘22 represented the defendant.

Each pair presented twice, competing against teams from University of Missouri-Kansas City, Arizona State, Wisconsin and Florida universities. The team prepared for five weeks.

“First thing we do is get together as group and talk about the case holistically: We approach it from the state’s and defense’s angles to see what they see,” said adjunct law professor Sean McGuinness'06, JD '09.

Students attended individual prep sessions with McGuinness and adjunct law professor Ryan O’Neill during the week and practiced group mock trials on Friday nights and the weekend. Practice focused on general trial advocacy techniques, persuasiveness and skills, said McGuinness. COVID forced this year’s mock trial competition online making students work on delivering their arguments well over camera.

The volunteering lawyers playing the judge and jury were recruited through email blasts to professional groups, alumni lists, prosecutors lists and public defender lists. In Connecticut, practicing lawyers are required to earn 12 continuing legal education credits annually. Participating as a judge in the mock trial fulfills three, said McGuinness.

After giving the team a week to regroup, practice will resume with a sustained intensity to prepare for the championships.

“The team will present the same case, though there will be potentially minor changes,” said O’Neill. “We’ll have an initial conversation about what worked and what didn’t during the competition. We’ll also brainstorm new ideas how to enhance the presentation, as well as get back to working on advocacy skills.” 

As the team ramps up for the upcoming competition, they are grateful for the support they continue to receive from their professors, as well as each other.

“My personal favorite part of the process as a whole was developing and delivering my opening statement and watching the rest of my teammates do the same with their respective speeches throughout the month,” said Lanthier.

Farkash, who was honored with one of eight “Outstanding Advocate” awards during the trial, agrees that her teammates’ encouragement was intrinsic to her performance.

“There was one practice a week before the competition where we all left in tears, but we were able to improve from there and support each other through the more challenging parts,” said Farkash. “[It’s great] when we have a really good trial wrap up and feel that high from doing our best no matter what the end result is.”

Related Articles

Photo of Shannon Flaherty and Jahmil Effend holding an award

Student earns national award for leadership and campus involvement

Shannon Flaherty ‘22, president of the Student Programming Board, has been recognized for making a difference at Quinnipiac with the National Association for Campus Activities Ken Bedini Student Leader Award for the Northeast Region in late October.

Read More
Headshot of the Quinnipiac EMS organization

EMS organization expands to keep the Quinnipiac community healthy and safe

When Quinnipiac’s Emergency Medical Service organization was founded back in 2019, it started with just 18 members. Today, it has grown to more than 70 members and has big ambitions for the agency’s future.

Read More
Students compete in the eSports lab.

Quinnipiac eSports team levels up with a new lab

The Quinnipiac eSports team now has its own place on campus to call home with a state-of-the-art eSports lab recently constructed in the Rocky Top Student Center on the York Hill Campus.

Read More
Grace Stickel smiling and standing at beach

Student explores the gaps within the criminal justice system

Grace Stickel ’22, MSW ’24, knew she wanted a job in helping others when she entered Quinnipiac’s 3+2 master of social work program. A criminal justice course she took fanned her interest in a possible career working with the previously incarcerated.

Read More
Headshot of Raya Al Wasti

Iraqi refugee helps international students find their place on campus

Traveling to the United States for opportunity can be nothing short of daunting. Raya Al Wasti, II, administrative assistant to the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement, understands the complexities of acclimating to American culture.

Read More

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now