smith.jpgThe Florida International University College of Law Trial Team won first place at the 16th annual National White Collar Crime Mock Trial Invitational, a three-day competition hosted by the Georgetown University Law Center Barrister’s Council in Washington, D.C.

FIU went 5-0 on their undefeated route to the championship, surpassing teams among the top trial advocacy programs in the country.

It was FIU Law’s first invitation and appearance at the prestigious tournament, which features a federal criminal trial focused on white collar issues.

Twenty of the top trial advocacy programs across the country competed. The FIU Trial Team won all five rounds in the competition, defeating the University of Houston, Fordham University and Barry University in the preliminary rounds. FIU Law entered the semifinal round undefeated and as the second-ranked squad, and defeated the University of Houston once again, then William & Mary in the final round.

Students Joe Glace, Nisha Mohammed, Marc Schmulian and Julian Stroleny each conducted the direct examination of a witness, the cross examination of a witness, and presented either the opening statement or closing argument of the case. A judge and “jury” of experienced trial attorneys scored their performances.

This year’s tournament featured allegations of straw contributions, illegal money orders, a mayoral campaign and the candidate’s alleged honest services fraud in accepting a bribe to change her position to favor a casino referendum on the same ballot.

“Without question, our students fought like champions. But more importantly, they advocated with passion and principle — our program hallmarks — and demonstrated to themselves, and to the nation, the deep sense of restorative justice and personal empowerment, on behalf of client and cause, that is FIU’s very special brand, as we continue to cultivate the next generation of great legal storytellers,” said Professor H.T. Smith, director of the Trial Advocacy Program.

The White Collar Trial Team was coached by FIU Law and trial team alumnus Anthony Hevia ’07 (former Miami-Dade prosecutor and now an associate at Wicker, Smith, O’Hara, McCoy & Ford, P.A.), Matthew Baldwin (former Miami-Dade prosecutor and now an associate with Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin), and Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, assistant director of the Trial Advocacy Program.