October 30, 2013
On October 24-27, 2013, St. John’s Law hosted its annual
Peter James Johnson ‘49 National Civil Rights Trial
Competition. Sixteen teams from law schools across the country
competed in the tournament, trying cases in front of panels of
prestigious judges and practicing attorneys. This year’s
competition fact pattern involved a dronestrike in the Middle East
which killed a radicalized American.
The competition’s preliminary rounds were held at Nassau County
Supreme Court in Mineola, NY and the quarter-final, semi-final, and
final rounds were held in St. John’s Belson Moot Court Room. The
student participants displayed an impressive level of advocacy and
professionalism throughout the competition. The final round pitted
a team from Hofstra University against a team from SUNY Buffalo.
Appearing before Hon. Israel Rubin , Peter James Johnson, Jr., and
a jury of New York trial lawyers and judges, Hofstra University
took first place. The winning team members were Kaitlyn Flynn, Jana
McNulty and Eleni Aristodemo. Kelsey Leiper of South Texas School
of Law School was named Best Advocate.
“Mock trial competitions provide a great opportunity for law
students to learn practical trial advocacy skills outside the
classroom,” said Kelly Dantuono ‘14. “This competition case was
based on a civil rights violation that is a hot topic in today’s
news. It was a great experience as an advocate for St.
John’s to observe the trials and hear the invaluable critique from
the judges and evaluators.”
Organized by the Law School’s
Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute, the Peter James
Johnson National Civil Rights Trial Competition is the only
national civil rights trial competition in the nation. In 2008, the
competition was renamed in honor of the late Peter James Johnson
’49, a St. John’s School of Law graduate who dedicated his legal
career to excellence in the practice of law.