May 03, 2010
Adding new luster to an 18-year tradition of regional and
national success, three members of St. John’s Mock Trial Team won
top awards for individual performance in the opening round
championship series of this season’s National Intercollegiate
Mock Trial Tournament.
The honors capped the 16th straight season that St. John’s has
earned a bid to the national championship’s opening rounds. In
addition to awarding team performance, the American
Mock Trial Association recognizes the top-ten students in two
categories: performing as attorneys or witnesses.
was the first time St. John’s team won three individual awards in
one season. The winners are Ellen Gong ‘13C, Gary Dunn ‘13CPS and
Hema Aravindakshan ‘10CPS. Hema and Ellen won as outstanding
witnesses. Gary tied for first place as outstanding attorney. “This
is big,” said Bernard Helldorfer ‘77CBA, ‘80L, Head Coach and
Professor and Director of
Legal Studies. “Once again, our students have proven they can
win against the best teams in the country.”
Overall, St. John’s placed sixth out of 28 teams in the Atlantic
Region, which includes powerhouses like NYU, Columbia and Yale. St.
John’s also hosted the Regional Tournament for the eighth year in a
row. Along with Prof. Helldorfer, who founded the team, Oscar Holt
‘73C, ‘76Ed, ‘79L, Associate Professor of Legal Studies, serves as
Co-Coach. The assistant coach is Kareem Vessup ‘01CPS, ‘04L, an
attorney who captained the team from 1998 to 2001.
Preparing for each season —from January through April — is rigorous
and time-consuming. But students say it is worth more than the
three credits it earns them as a Legal Studies internship in St.
College of Professional Studies. For Hema, who will join the
Secret Service after graduating in May, the team has been “a
life-changing experience.” Ellen says the Mock Trial Team has
boosted her confidence. As for Gary, who came to St. John’s
specifically for the team, the experience “confirms that law is
what I want to do with my life.”