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Barry Law School Trial Team Wins Fifth Championship

Following only two weeks after winning the championship at Michigan State, the Barry University School of Law Trial Team won its fifth championship in 2 ½ years overall at the invitational ABA Quinnipiac University School of Law Trial Advocacy Competition. In the highly competitive Trial Team arena, with grueling three-hour rounds designed to reveal every student’s weakness, winning for any school is rare and even advancing is not common. No team has better exemplified excellence, or better represented its law school, than this team.

Barry was undefeated in this competition, beating Catholic University and the University of Illinois in the preliminary rounds, the University of Houston (a many-time Trial Team champion) in the Final Four, and Creighton University in the finals.

Our team consisted of Angela Agostino (advocate for both prosecution and defense), Kristina Sexton (defense advocate and witness), Sydjia Robinson (prosecution advocate and witness), and Javaneh Pourkarim (swing witness). Kristina was awarded “Best Advocate” in this invitational competition to which schools send only their best, a richly deserved honor. This past March and April Kristina led Barry to a regional championship in the American Association of Justice competition, and then on to the championship round in New Orleans. Angela was awarded “Best Cross-Examination” at Quinnipiac, and it is her second championship team as an advocate. Kristina now joins Angela as Barry “Best Advocate” award winners, as Angela won that award at Georgetown in 2009.

This team worked extraordinarily hard for the past seven weeks. Kristina and Angela have demonstrated, and if you saw them in action you would agree, that they are simply two of the best advocates anywhere in the Trial Team competition arena. No elaboration is required. Sydjia and Javaneh had never before competed in an extramural competition. Sydjia mastered the very difficult task of not only learning evidence (without yet having taken the course, no less), but knowing it sufficiently to apply it in actual use in the courtroom (when one has only one to 1.5 seconds to object, and with the proper objection, before the question is answered by the opposition). As is always true, we will never win without great witness preparation and performances. Javaneh was exceptional in her roles. In round after round she raised our advocates’ direct examination scores by thoroughly knowing her roles, and then brought down our advocates’ cross-examination scores by seizing on every weakness in their questions. While witnesses are not scored directly, they have a high impact on the advocates’ scores and thus directly on a team’s results.

If no team wins without great witnesses, it is without dispute that no team will even advance without excellent coaches. Ours are two of the best. Fermin Lopez is the dean of our coaches. He devotes hundreds of hours – per year – to coaching our teams, on top of his working as a practicing attorney in Orlando. A former top-notch Trial Team competitor for the University of Florida, Fermin has coached our teams for seven years. He has produced two championships (his first was at the ABA Puerto Rico competition in 2008), and numerous Finals, Final Four and Elite Eight teams. Fermin also teaches as one of our valued adjuncts. It is his model practice schedule that is used by all our competition teams.

Margaret Garner graduated this past May, now practices in Orlando, and was one of our best Trial Team advocates ever. She represented Barry this past June at the inaugural Top Gun competition at Baylor Law School. This competition was elite in every sense of the word, as only the top 16 Trial Teams in the United States were invited – each to send only its single best advocate. From the time the case packet was handed out, each advocate had only 24 hours to prepare before starting his or her first trial. The packet was of a size that normally requires six full weeks of preparation. Margaret narrowly lost to the eventual champion, and defeated one other advancing advocate. This was Margaret’s first time coaching, and she began it with a championship.

Please congratulate these students and coaches when you see them. Standing alone, this is an incredible achievement. In combination with what preceded it by only two weeks at Michigan State,
It reinforces Barry’s Trial Team position as one of the elite.

Cordially,

Prof. Mitch Frank
Trial Team Faculty Advisor


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