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Buffalo State Mock Trial Team Competes in Rochester

Posted: November 21, 2017

Last weekend, the Buffalo State Mock Trial team successfully competed against St. John Fisher College at the federal courthouse in Rochester, NY.

Mock trial is a competition where students take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses and prepare court cases to argue at the local, regional, and national levels.

Participants learn legal principles, public communication, logic, and analytical skills, as well as network with schools across New York State. These attributes are invaluable to students of any discipline, but particularly to those entering law school or studying for law enforcement.

“Mock trial is a great experience,” said team member Ta'Nira Newton. “It actually puts you in the mindset of what it’s like to be in a courtroom and gives you the chance to view a case from all aspects.” 

Each year, the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) puts together a new case, complete with affidavits, depositions, expert reports, evidence, and more for a national competition. During the fall season, teams learn the case and compete in regional scrimmages and unofficial invitational tournaments.

For its first case, the Buffalo State teams defended Dylan Hendricks, a truck operator accused of attempted murder, among other crimes.  

“All of their early-morning nerves faded once their trial began and they really began to shine,” said the team's faculty adviser, David Ben-Merre, associate professor of English. “The team put on a valiant defense—they called an Uber driver, pharmacologist, and a cell phone expert.” 

In the afternoon, the team switched sides and prosecuted Hendricks. “It was clear to everyone in the courtroom that if Dylan had been a real person, Dylan would have gone away for a looooong time,” said Ben-Merre.

The team will compete at the AMTA’s 2018 Great Lakes Regional Tournament, held at Buffalo State in February. Buffalo State and teams from many other institutions will participate in the two-day event, which the college has hosted since 2011.

“I'm very proud of the progress we have made so early in the season,” said sophomore industrial technology major Chelsea Nowicki. “I’m looking forward to hosting the AMTA Regional Tournament in February!”

Junior English major, philosophy minor Andrew Butt agreed, “It feels incredible to be part of such a talented team, which represents the values of professionalism and espirit de corps of Buffalo State.”

Students of all majors and career goals are invited to inquire about joining the team. For more information, please contact Ben-Merre at

Pictured left to right team members: Ta'Nira Newton, Camilla Reyes, Jalon Bobb, Layla Helou, Kayla Kopinski, Andrew Butt, Chelsea Nowicki, and Tanairy Lozada. Not pictured: Kasidia Gary.  

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