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Potsdam mock trial team wraps up successful season

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CANTON - The Potsdam Sandstoner Mock Trial team completed another successful year.

After losing all three of their student attorneys from last year, this looked to be a rebuilding year. Some of the veterans “recruited” a significant number of freshmen, who impressed the coaches and showed how determined they were to carry on the legacy of the Mock Trial program.

@Normal:The St. Lawrence County competition helped the Sandstoner “newbies” to cut their performance teeth in the preliminary rounds. Then, in the semi-final round the A-team insured that the Potsdam contingent would move onto the finals in the county tournament by beating Morristown Central’s team. Then, as has been a common pairing the past eight years, the finals involved the Potsdam team against their neighbors from Madrid-Waddington, usually a very competitive trial. This year was no different. The power seemed to shift back and forth between the two. At the conclusion of the cases in chief, the students offering the closing arguments took over.

Madrid-Waddington’s closer tried to convince Judge David Demarest that they, as the prosecution, had proved beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the alleged crime, contamination of the drinking water of a small village in Southern New York. The defendants included not only the CEO of a hydrofracking company, Mitchell Tomley, but also the corporation itself, Penn Hydra Gas, Inc. However, because the drilling site was in Pennsylvania and the criminal contamination occurred in New York, a jurisdictional issue came into play.

The defense, Potsdam, through its articulate closer, Lucas Bird, reminded the judge that no jurisdiction was established by the prosecution nor did they prove any of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

And when Judge Demarest assessed the performances of each team, he decided that the prosecution had, in fact, failed to prove their allegations. The defendants were found not guilty.

As for the trial itself, Judge Demarest complimented both teams for jobs well done in advocating for their respective sides. However, in the end, he opted to award the St. Lawrence County championship to the Potsdam Sandstoners. This victory awarded an automatic bid to attend the Regional Tournament in Lake George.

The region includes schools from the Capital District, and there were eight schools representing eight counties. The draw saw Potsdam pitted against Columbia/Greene Counties in the first round. The team, Hudson High School, did not enjoy any regular legal advice from an attorney.

Potsdam, with the teaching of David Haggard and James Farrell, came with legal arguments that only a lawyer could know and understand.

The trial was really done within minutes of its start. So, Potsdam earned its way into the semi-final round. Just like last year the locals were to square off against one of the perennial powerhouses in New York State Mock Trial competition, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons from Schenectady County.

The Potsdam contingent was hoping for a repeat of last year’s semi-final round in which they defeated Bishop Gibbons in a very close competition. This trial was no different that the previous one. The direct examinations and the cross examinations were intense and well thought out. In the end, by the slimmest of margins the judge ruled that Potsdam had won the verdict, but Bishop Gibbons earned the trial performance victory, thus moving on to the final round.

There was disappointment among the members of the Potsdam team, but when they realized what they had accomplished with a brand new team with only two veterans, the hurt was eased a bit. Already the members are talking about practice during the summer to insure that they do not forget all they learned this year.

The Potsdam team for 2013-2014 included:

Lawyers: Brian Timmerman, Emma LoMastro and Lucas Bird.

Witnesses: Marko Jukic, Dominic Frascatore, Garrett Mattimore and Deea Das.

Timer: Daniel French.

Back up Witnesses: Ella Dudeck, Marie Peplaski, Emma Kroll, Anna DeRosa, Logan Martin and Jacob Mitchell.

Lawyer Coach: David Haggard, attorney-at-law.

Teacher Coach: Daniel Jenack

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