Sunday, October 22

Mock Trial team wins national championship


After becoming the first team west of the Mississippi River to
win the American Mock Trial Association national championship last
year, the UCLA Mock Trial team went back to Iowa and won again this
year, defeating Georgia Tech in the final round.

The AMTA held the 21st National Intercollegiate Championship in
Des Moines, Iowa at Drake University and the Polk County Courthouse
last weekend from April 8-10.

Teams had to operate as both defense and plaintiff, portraying
witnesses for both sides of a fictional case sent to them earlier
in the year by the AMTA. The fictional case alleged negligence on
the part of a psychiatric hospital that released a dangerous
patient, who subsequently attacked a woman with a tire iron.

The field of over 550 teams across the nation was narrowed down
through a series of regional tournaments to the 64 teams at the
championship tournament. Overcoming such great competition filled
the team’s coach, Professor Gonzalo Freixes, who is also a
lecturer at the Anderson School, with pride.

“They were superb and clearly the best team in the nation.
The quality of the presentation, their understanding of the nuances
of presenting a legal case, the richness of their cross
examinations and the vivid portrayal of witnesses: second to none
in the country,” he said.

Judge Daniel Schmidt, one of the judges from the final round,
also had praise for the team.

“I can’t think of enough superlatives or hyperbole
to put with it to say that they did a marvelous job,” he
said.

Schmidt said the main strength of the team was its ability to
paint pictures for the jury with words and its evident preparation,
including eight-hour long practice sessions leading up to the
competition.

“There was no question they put in innumerable hours in
preparation,” Schmidt said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in the presence
of so many overachievers at one time.”

He said he appreciated the team’s dedication even more
when he compared it to his own college days.

“By the time I was a senior in college, every night was
New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Team member Bryan Caforio spent last Wednesday night celebrating
as well, only he was celebrating his acceptance to Yale by flying
out to visit the law school he is “98 percent certain”
he will be attending next year.

Caforio, a fourth-year political science student and captain of
UCLA’s Mock Trial team, was also part of last year’s
championship team.

This time he not only took home the title of champion, but also
All-American Attorney, an award given out to the most outstanding
attorneys at the tournament, as voted on by the judges in each
round.

He said the team felt the presence of members of the three other
UCLA mock trial teams who traveled to Iowa to support the
competitors.

“The combination with us being defending national
champions plus spectators was intimidating,” he said.

“We had a lot of the rounds won before we entered the
room.”

As champion, the team has become the model for other teams
across the nation, Caforio said.

“As we’ve become more successful, we’ve
created a style of our own that other teams are trying to adapt
to,” he said.

Another judge from the final round, Judge Kent Slater, had high
regards for Caforio.

“He really is accomplished, at ease in the process of
participation in the trial,” he said.

The key to winning next year, in the opinion of Slater?

“They shouldn’t let Bryan graduate,” he said
with a laugh.

Co-captain Amanda Bonn, a third-year political science student,
also took home the All-American Attorney award, after receiving a
perfect score of 20, and Scott Ooms won the All-American Witness
award.

Like Caforio, Bonn was on last year’s championship
team.

“We knew we had the ability to win it again. The year
before we didn’t have as much confidence,” she
said.

A loss on Saturday morning of the tournament weekend, however,
nearly cost the team the championship.

“It would have been easy for us to give up. The next
morning we were just as amazing as we could be,” she
said.

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