Competing at Empire in Empire State

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The Empire Mock Trial competition took place at the New York Southern District Courthouse. The first round of competition began Oct. 12. (Photo submitted by U.S. Attorney Francis Viamontes)

Our school has a diverse student body with various interests and for some of our pre-Law students, Mock Trial is a way that those students display their passion and dedication to the legal system. The Mock Trial competition team traveled to NYC to compete in the Empire Mock Trial competition, Oct. 8-14, and they did not disappoint. 

The 10 students who attended the Empire Mock Trial competition, started to meet in early July, when the competition released the case studies, to prepare for this competition.

“We discussed characters, themes, theories, and other essential elements to construct our case,” Assistant United States Attorney Chief of Narcotics and Violent Crimes, Francis Viamontes, who is one of the Mock Trial coaches said. “After we finalized the basis of our case, the students wrote their own direct and cross-examinations, opening and closing arguments, and creating interesting characters to portray as witnesses. We practiced five or more hours a week until October, which is when we flew to New York to compete.”

The team competed in three-hour-long rounds, simulating an actual trial in which one team acted as the plaintiff and the other as the defense. The team with the most points awarded by the judges won the round; the Heritage team won six out of eight judicial decisions. 

The team was awarded an Honorable Mention at the end of the competition as well as multiple individual awards: Abigail Canalejo and Coby Ackerman received Best Attorney awards and Anika Dham received a Best Witness award. 

“My favorite part of mock trial is the real-life experience it brings us as we get to act like lawyers and it gives us a feel of what we might do in the future and that is very exciting,” said junior Anika Dham (who won Best Witness last year). “It has taught me a lot about trying cases and what lawyers do every day and has helped me decide on whether this is a career path I may want to take in the future.”

U.S. Attorney Viamontes takes pride in her students and their work ethic as well as “what they learned over the course of my teachings and the competition itself,” Viamontes said.

“This year’s team was extremely hardworking but also very fun to work with. My students always strive to be the best, but like to showcase their personality in their writing. Their performance in New York was a true depiction of how hard they have worked over the past few months,” U.S. Attorney Viamontes said.

Madison Lynn is a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. This is her second year on staff and she is so excited for the many amazing things to come for this school year for the Patriot Post. Madison is also a member of TASSEL and Best Buddies club. She has a passion for photography and loves all type of music.


  1. Their hard work certainly paid off. I find these students an inspiration and am very proud to know one of them personally. They take their responsibilities to the team seriously and follow their coach’s guidance. The time and preparation each student has dedicated is an indication of how much this means to them. You are all amazing and congratulations!!

  2. congratulations to the best of the best and to the rest of the team as well as their coach.
    You are all amazing.
    Keep winning, we love to continue winning.

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