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Potsdam Mock Trial team wins county, runners up at regional competition


CANTON - The St. Lawrence County Mock Trial program recently completed its tournament schedule.

The two finalists in the county competition were Madrid-Waddington Central School and Potsdam Central School. Historically, there have been some very good trials between these two annual powers. This year’s final was no exception. Madrid-Waddington won the coin toss and elected to argue the defense side. That left Potsdam to advocate on the Plaintiff side.

Andrew Hou, the Sandstoner opener, delivered an impeccable opening statement that left the audience awed. His pace and articulation were ideal. His volume varied as the wording required it. He established the theme for the entire Potsdam team.

Madrid-Waddington’s opener followed with a litany of promises of what the team would present in their case and the evidence that would prove to the court that Plaintiff had not fulfilled its required elements. The Plaintiff witnesses, Cassondra McCormick, Brian Timmerman, and Daniel Rothwell, answered their respective attorneys in the direct examinations leaving no doubt about their personal knowledge of the issues.

The Defense team had a hard time of it when each of their attorneys struggled to shake any of the witnesses on cross-examinations. In the meantime, Potsdam’s attorneys meticulously presented the information providing the judge a map of how they would prove that the information offered by the witnesses did, in fact, address each of the elements and prove their case.

Andrew Hou began by directing witness Cassondra McCormick (Morgan Martin). Together, the questions and answers laid the foundation of how the young lady was admitted to college but failed to get adequate and complete information from the representatives of the college prior to attending. She found that things were not as she thought they would be.

Next, Alex Wang, Potsdam’s middle attorney, introduced Brian Timmerman (Jordan Phillips), a former employee of the college in question. Under Mr. Wang’s directed questioning Mr. Timmerman shared information about how the college’s marketing materials were deceptive and misleading.

Finally, Sarah Choong, the third lawyer for the Sandstoners, presented Daniel Rothwell (Chris Cringle), the president of NACC, a nationally recognized accrediting agency for computer colleges. Under her skilled questioning Ms. Choong laid a foundation to offer Mr. Rothwell as an “expert” witness. Together, they dissected the assessment of the aforementioned college by the NACC and Mr. Rothwell was able to show where the advertising brochure used by the college was deceitful and misleading.

After the Plaintiff side, Potsdam, had completed its case in chief, it was Madrid-Waddington’s turn to put their case before the court. Their attempts to neutralize the Sandstoner witnesses’ testimony were thwarted by the determined Potsdam lawyers. The Sandstoner contingent made the Yellowjacket attorneys work for each and every argument that the team made. It must have been tiring for all of the lawyers trying to present a prepared case while thinking on their collective feet to address unexpected questions and opinions.

After all the witnesses had been interrogated, it came time for the closing arguments. Eric Squires presented this for Madrid-Waddington. He tried to sum up what he perceived as the opponent’s case plus re-iterating his own. His presentation was followed by Potsdam’s closer, Sarah Choong. Her passionate delivery of the meaning of the case and what evidence had been presented during the trial, together with her exhaustive explanation of precedent law, wowed those in attendance. It was her closing that was the nail in the coffin. Potsdam was awarded the victory by Judge Kathleen Rogers.

On April 19, the Potsdam contingent headed south to Saratoga Springs, the site of the Region 3 tournament. This region includes the territory between the St. Lawrence River and Green County, south of Albany. On April 20, Potsdam took the floor against Coxsackie/Athens School.

Potsdam was assigned the Plaintiff side. The locals won handily. The second trial of the day pitted Potsdam against the annual power, Bishop Gibbons from Schenectady County.

The Sandstoners drew Defense. This was a well fought round with each team presenting its case with fluidity and poise. The judge was very educational and liked to teach the student attorneys as they tried to offer objections and explanations. In the end, Potsdam eked out the victory.

That meant that the last round of the day, the final round of the Region 3 competition saw Potsdam go against Saratoga County’s representative. The host team won the coin flip and chose Defense. The Sandstoners were Plaintiff yet again. This trial was hard fought and the locals stonewalled the Saratoga team at every turn. However, when the dust settled, the judge awarded the Saratoga County team as the winner by two points.

Potsdam’s reaction, although disappointed by the defeat one step away from the New York State Championship Tournament later in May, immediately began to dissect their performance and suggest how they could have been just a bit better. The final agreement among the students and their coaches was that the Potsdam Sandstoner Mock Trial team had done very well.

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