Members of the Monroe College Mock Trial team were winners in the National Mock Trial Undergraduate competition held at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago from April 13-14.
As a result, Kariette Fleming, who led a three-member team that included students from other schools to a first-place finish, and Renae Watkis were granted thousands of dollars in law school scholarships.
Fleming, who hails from Antigua, won first place and as a result was awarded $42,000 in tuition grants with her two teammates. Watkis, who is Jamaican, received an Outstanding Advocate Award, which will mean $2,000 in scholarships to the John Marshall Law School.
The two bachelor’s program students, who attend the School of Criminal Justice on the college’s New Rochelle campus, were assigned a fictional civil case regarding the use of excessive police force at a political protest and argued the case in front of a judge as attorneys for both sides of the case and also acted as witnesses in the trial. The two worked for months in preparation, putting in as much as 20 to 25 hours-a-week, including eight–hour blocks on Saturdays.
But that hard work paid off because, according to their faculty advisor, mentor and seasoned attorney, Professor Raniece Medley, they were well-trained and prepared for every possibility, just as they might in a real trial.
“It was astounding, really, that they maintained their composure throughout what was a contentious and at times, difficult trial in front of a not-always-accommodating judge,” she said. “I have seen experienced professionals break down under that kind of pressure. But our students, to their everlasting credit, hung in there and did what they came to do. They argued their case expertly.”
The awards in the national competition were in addition to the $46,000 that Ms. Watkis won in the regional competition and Ms. Fleming earned $21,400 in the regionals.
“Clearly, they have bright futures,” said Professor Medley.
The Dean of the School of Criminal Justice Michele Rodney added that, “Monroe students have successfully competed on the national level two years in a row in Mock Trial and we look forward to seeing them in the courtroom handling real cases as attorneys in the near future.”
The National Mock Trial Undergraduate Competition was established by the John Marshall Law School to encourage interest in the law among diverse undergraduate students. Student participants have the opportunity to conduct a full trial in a courtroom setting and experience how the law is practiced and applied.