The College of Law trial team returned triumphant from Orlando this weekend having won the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition.
Comprising the championship team were Victoria Thacker, Forrest J. Wilson, Christopher C. Chillingworth and Alexander A. Pollock.
Wilson also took home the best advocate award.
FIU’s winning squad was power-ranked first after the preliminary rounds, and power-ranked first again going into the championship round.
FIU’s second team – Natalia Cruz, Tierra Fulwood, Jonathan Gonzalez, Stephanie Pena and Evan Thomas — also went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, winning all judges’ scorecards, and were power-ranked second to advance to the quarter-finals before falling to ultimate tournament runner-up, Barry.
Trying the wrongful death case Billie Eyewish, on behalf of herself and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Casey Busgraves v. Mega Entertainment, Inc., FIU went undefeated in all five rounds, winning every judge’s ballot through the preliminaries and all but two the rest of the way, including a decisive 4-1 win in the final.
This is FIU’s second Bedell championship. Its first Bedell title was in 2016.
The trophy now comes back to Miami, where it will remain on display outside the small courtroom until the tournament next year.
The trial team began practicing together on Dec. 16, just two days after the conclusion of the fall semester exams. They worked every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, and were among the only ones on campus for weeks, as 2021 closed and 2022 began. The team then continued its work into the spring term, using every bit of evening time after class, the MLK holiday weekend, and the days thereafter to finalize its prep.
“Our Trial Team — these students – reflect the very best that is FIU Law,” said Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program and the team’s head coach. “Our students really do defy gravity and fly — determined to live lives of purpose and consequence, by day’s end, to do more good than harm. They cannot be outworked, and they work selflessly together, striving to become the next generation of great trial lawyers. They are the Passionate Principled Advocates of tomorrow – and the magnificent embodiment of our special FIU Law brand.”
Along with Professor Fingerhut, the Bedell teams were coached by College of Law and trial team alumni Justin James Duran JD ’18, himself a former tournament champion and team captain; Chandler A. Lefevere JD ’21; and Trial Advocacy Adjunct Professor Ari S. Goldberg JD ’12, a former team captain as well; and Professor H.T. Smith, the inaugural director of the Trial Advocacy Program.
Sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar, the Bedell competition is the premier mock trial tournament in Florida. Sixteen teams competed this year, including Barry, FSU, UF, St. Thomas, Nova, Cooley, FAMU, and last year’s champion, Stetson.
To learn more about Trial Ad at FIU and all that our program has to offer, call 305-348-8095 or visit law.fiu.edu/trialad.