New Mock Trial Club Competes at Cardozo
On Sunday, April 22, after several months of preparation, 24 YU students participated in a mock trial competition organized by the Mock Trial Club. The event took place in a moot court room at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Four teams, two playing the prosecution and two acting as the defense, competed in two separate trials. The teams each competed a single time, and were composed of three lawyers and three witnesses. Mr. Henry Wasserstein, Esq., an experienced litigator and grandfather of Mock Trial Club Co-President Reena Wasserstein, served as the judge, and two additional students acted as bailiffs.
Mr. Wasserstein stated that “The student lawyers exhibited professionalism, dedication and ability way beyond their years. They have extraordinary talent and, if they choose to do so, will have bright futures in the legal profession.” He also noted that “The witnesses played their roles perfectly. It was a pleasure to work with all of them.”
The competition was preceded by a co-ed shabbaton on the Beren Campus, during which club members engaged in a number of activities regarding general law topics, and the relationship between torah and the modern legal system, and prepared for the competition.
Two other events have also been organized by the Mock Trial Club this semester. On March 22, it co-sponsored an event with the Agunah Advocacy Club on the Wilf Campus that discussed careers in law and the “agunah crisis”. It also hosted Judge Esther Morgenstern, a Supreme Court Justice at Kings County Integrated Domestic Violence Court, and Professor Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin, the Director of the Indie Film Clinic at Cardozo and former Dean of Students at Columbia Law School, on April 17 on the Beren Campus.
This semester marks the first time since the 2015-2016 academic year that there has been an official club relating to mock trial. When asked why she decided to create the club, Stern College for Women Sophomore Shanee Markovitz, one of the Co-Presidents of the club, said that she was “frustrated with the lack of opportunities for students to practice skills relating to courtroom and trial” and approached Reena Wasserstein, a fellow SCW Sophomore and the other Co-President of the club, who had also been contemplating the idea of creating the club, with this concern.
Wasserstein explained that she was involved with mock trial while in high school and knew that this was something she wanted to continue in college. She described her disappointment with the lack of commitment and community she believed most clubs demonstrated, and said she was looking “more for a team than a club” and “wanted the practices and the team work and the bonding.”
Markovitz stated that they also wanted to give students the opportunity to “meet professionals in the field, get exposure to a future career in law, and build an atmosphere of like-minded students that were interested in law,” and “as a result, we created the mock trial club to try and address those needs.”
Yeshiva College Sophomore Chezky Frieden, the captain of one of the defense teams from the competition, described his appreciation for the club. “As a previous captain of my high school’s mock trial team I was interested to see what the Mock Trial Club at YU would have to offer. Beyond a high level of learning and competition, I also found a community.”
Markovitz looks forward to expanding and enhancing the club for next year, and Wasserstein described that she has reached out to the American Mock Trial Association to discuss potential religious accommodations for a YU team that would compete with other universities, due to the fact that competitions traditionally occur on Saturdays.