Empire Family Films Pre-Trial Instructional Video

By: Justin Matarrese

What to do next?

I graduated law school last year and had to answer that question.  It was challenging.  For my entire life, I envisioned that I’d practice law.  That may one day be true.  But for now, I’m so proud to work with Empire Mock Trial.  And yesterday was another reminder of why this organization continues to inspire me.

Yesterday, we filmed our first ever instructional video.  We knew that we couldn’t introduce a new component to our mock trials (the pre-trial evidentiary argument) without providing a substantive educational resource. So over the past three (3) months, we planned for yesterday’s exercise.

We selected a mock fact pattern (a motion to suppress).  Special thanks to Melinda Cooperman and the Washington College of Law as we adapted their 2014 moot court problem.

We secured a venue.  Special thanks to Daniel Alessandrino (Chief Clerk) and Captain Michael Losi of the Kings County Criminal Court.

We found attorneys to argue our mock oral argument.  Special thanks to Amanda Tuminelli (Dechert LLP) and Lars Hulsebus (Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky LLP), former mock trial competitors at Georgetown Law who captured a mock trial national championship in 2013.

And finally, we found a judge to preside over the sample oral argument and share her invaluable feedback.  We are beyond grateful to Judge Pamela K. Chen (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York) for her service.

This was a jam-packed day for our volunteers.  We started with a panel that discussed best practices for arguing an oral argument; we followed that with the presentation of the mock arguments; and we concluded by analyzing the performance of the advocates.  Judge Chen, Amanda and Lars were involved the entire time, answering questions, providing passionate arguments, and interjecting self-deprecating humor!  They were witty, charming and insightful.

Yesterday was a wonderful reminder of how much good there is in the world.  A courthouse, with no obligation to do so, opened its doors to our students so we’d have a venue in which to film.  Two lawyers whose demanding jobs require them to work late most evenings, volunteered countless hours both preparing for and participating in the argument.  And a federal judge, who reviews real fact patterns and listens to oral arguments for a living, dedicated half a day to helping young people develop trial skills.

These volunteers are inspiring. Their intellect is only matched by the size of their hearts.

There are some really amazing people in this world.  And we are lucky to have so many as a part of the Empire Family.

We look forward to sharing the Pre-Trial Instructional Video with you on August 15.

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