Congratulations to Ward Melville High School of East Setauket as they are crowned the 2024 Suffolk County Regional High School Mock Trial Competition Champions!  Over 500 students from 31 Suffolk County public and private high schools participated in the 2024 The New York State High School Mock Trial Program, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Suffolk County Coordinators, Glenn P. Warmuth, Esq. & Leonard Badia, Esq.,head up this annual educational program co-sponsored by The Suffolk County Bar Association (SCBA) and The Suffolk Academy of Law.

The 31 high school teams competed in four weeks of round 1 competition, with the Top 16 teams moving on to three rounds of single elimination playoffs at the Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip, commencing with the Final on April 3rd at the Suffolk County Bar Association in Hauppauge.  The Honorable Caren Loguercio, Supervising Judge of the Family Court and Acting Supreme Court Justice, presided over the final match of Ward Melville High School versus Huntington High School.

In his opening remarks, Glenn Warmuth proudly announced that each year the mock trial competition grows and that the level of play this year is the highest it’s ever been. Len Badia closed the competition by exclaiming that both teams in the Finals should be extremely proud of their efforts.

Ward Melville will advance to the New York State Finals in Albany this May, led by their teacher coach, Doug Elliot, and attorney coach, Joseph Prokop, Esq.  The team consists of Alayna Bhatti, Jordan Conrad, Madeleine Galeotafiore, Olivia Gamez, Grace Hammons, Rebecca Malz, Olivia Miller, Ella O’Connor, Lila Pessier, Anna Potekhin, Eleanor Schneider and Jack Zazzera.

The SCBA and Academy of Law would like to thank the 44 attorneys who volunteered their time to judge the round 1 matches, and the 34 attorneys who volunteered many housrs coaching a high school mock trial team.  This program would not be able to work without your generous support.

The SCBA would also like to thank their esteemed Suffolk County Judges for their service in this year’s mock trial tournament: Hon. Anna Acquafredda, Hon. Cheryl Helfer, Hon. Cheryl A. Joseph, Hon. Chris Ann Kelley, Hon. John J. Leo, Hon. Caren Loguercio, Hon. Vincent Messina, Jr., Hon. Catherine E. Miller, Hon. Mary Kate Mullen, Hon. Rosann O. Orlando, Hon. Mary E. Porter, Hon. John E. Raimondi, Hon. Evan Tanenbaum and Hon. Evan Zuckerman.

The New York State High School Mock Trial Program is a joint venture of The New York Bar Foundation, the New York State Bar Association, and the Law, Youth and Citizenship Program. In this educational program, high school students gain first-hand knowledge of civil/criminal law and courtroom procedures. Thousands of students participate each year.  Objectives of the tournament are to: Teach students ethics, civility, and professionalism; further students’ understanding of the law, court procedures and the legal system; improve proficiency in basic life skills, such as listening, speaking, reading and reasoning; promote better communication and cooperation among the school community, teachers and students and members of the legal profession, and heighten appreciation for academic studies and stimulate interest in law-related careers.

The 2024 Mock Trial case was a criminal case entitled The People of the State of Nirvana v. Lindsay Gordon. In this hands-on competition, the teams argue both sides of the case and assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses. Each team competes to earn points based on their presentation and legal skills. “Judges”, usually local judges and attorneys who volunteer their time, score the teams based on ratings on preparation, performance, and professionalism.

While the Mock Trial program is set up as a “competition,” emphasis is placed on the educational aspect of the experience which focuses on the preparation and presentation of a hypothetical courtroom trial that involves critical issues that are important and interesting to young people.

For interest in joining the High School Mock Trial program for 2025, please contact Suffolk County Coordinator, Glenn P. Warmuth, Esq., at (631) 732-2000 or [email protected]. Mock Trial can be an after-school club, an elective class, or part of your school’s curriculum. An attorney will be provided to you to help coach the students in the matters of the legal profession.

The Suffolk County Bar Association, a professional association comprised of more than 2,600 lawyers and judges, was founded in 1908 to serve the needs of the local legal community and the public.  The Association sponsors educational programs throughout the year through its educational arm, the Suffolk Academy of Law, and provides 24-hour access to an on-line lawyer referral service whereby the public can be referred to attorneys with expertise in a variety of areas of law, the Pro Bono Project which provides legal services for the disadvantage citizens of Suffolk County.  For more information about these or other Suffolk County Bar Association programs or services, call (631) 234-5511 x 222. Visit their website or find them on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.