Mock Trial Scores Winning Season
Results are out. The Cornell University Mock Trial Association had its best showing at the April National Mock Trial Championship.
One Big Red team took fourth place and another Big Red team took ninth place. This is the first time the association had both teams placing in the top five in 11 years, and the first time placing two teams in the top 10 in the team’s history.
Cornell was matched against the first- and second-ranked teams in the country, Yale University and the University of Virginia. The teams won two-thirds of the ballots against Yale University, with two tied ballots, and one loss against University of Virginia, defending champions.
Cornell also brought home four “All-American” individual awards. Taking such a high number of awards is a first for Cornell. Steven Torres A&S ’19 and James Pinchak ’18 were named All-American attorneys and Joshua Sims ’21 and Danny Shokry ’21 were named All-American witnesses.
Leading up to the national championship, Cornell University Mock Trial Association had three teams with an excellent showing during the 2018 regional tournaments. Team 1055 took first place at the Princeton, N.J., tournament, Team 1057 took second place at the Buffalo, N.Y, tournament and Team 1056 took fifth place at the Buffalo tournament.
The team’s verbal banter, persuasion skills and winning argument skills led three of Cornell's teams to receive bids to the Open Round Championship Series, the last stop before the national tournament.
In March at the series, for the second time in three years, Cornell teams #1055 and #1056 placed in the National Championship Tournament. Cornell was among 48 – out of 400 – universities or colleges to go to the championship.
Members of team #1055 include:
James Pinchak ’18
Benjamin Chasan ’18
Olivia Lifflander A&S ’18
Muhammad Mustafa A&S ’18
Hudson Lifflander ’20
Erik Szakiel A&S ’21
Joshua Sims ’21
Members of team #1056 include
Steven Torres A&S ’19
Michael Glanzel A&S ’18
Emma LoMastro ’20
Arielle Clement ’21
Ben Lee A&S ’20
Danny Shokry A&S ’21
Hannah Subega A&S ’20
Christine Scott A&S ’20
Competitions and tournaments are sponsored by the American Mock Trial Association, founded in 1985 by Dean Richard Calkins of Drake Law School. Its purpose is to prepare students for the legal profession, develop public speaking abilities and create and moderate collegiate competitions with an outgrowth of camaraderie.
Pinchak, Cornell Mock Trial president, says, “This is a fierce arena where you develop strong leadership skills. You must be able to think quickly on your feet while addressing the public.”
“It is a great opportunity to play the role of attorney or witness for civil or criminal trial settings. The judges and panel of jurors preside over the competition and rank the strength of teams and team members.”
Mock trial develops the ability to speak intelligently and off the cuff to the public, he said. Mock trial members also grow as potential prosecutors, actors and defense attorneys.
“Our skills have dramatically improved through rigorous training and competing,” Pinchak said. Skills include public speaking, critical thinking and the art of forming a persuasive, cohesive argument. “You may think that you already know how to give a good speech or that you are good at arguing when you debate with your friends, but mock trial is on an entirely different level.”
“I can’t stress enough how much we’ve enjoyed support from the ILR School. Dean Hallock, Kara Lombardi, Thomas Golden and our coach Eliot Schuman have been right there behind us every step of the way,” said Pinchak, who starts at Cornell Law School in the fall.