Group pose of students from mock trial teams

Two Buffalo State Students Win Awards in Regional Mock Trial Tournament


Two Buffalo State College students won awards during the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) 2020 Great Lakes Regional Tournament held at Buffalo State on February 8 and 9. This marked the 10th consecutive year that Buffalo State hosted the competition.

Taylor Seymour, a senior English and philosophy major, won an Outstanding Attorney award for the second year in a row, and Grace Gallagher, a freshman psychology major, won an Outstanding Witness award for her portrayal of a forensic pathologist in the aggravated murder/involuntary manslaughter trial.

Other students came very close to winning, noted David Ben-Merre, Buffalo State associate professor of English and mock trial team coach. Marissa LaMarti was one point shy of also winning an Outstanding Attorney award; Julianna Kraft, a junior hospitality major, who played the defendant, was a single point away from winning an Outstanding Witness award; and Bathena Toussaint, a senior English and criminal justice major, and Charlie Rowe, a junior philosophy major, who, respectively, played the police detective and eyewitness, were each two points away from winning Outstanding Witness awards.

Every year the AMTA puts together a new case complete with affidavits, depositions, expert reports, and evidence in alternating criminal and civil cases. Each trial has two scoring judges who give points for each team’s performance during the opening statement, direct examination, witness performances, cross-examination, and closing arguments.

Twenty Buffalo State students competed on two teams in this year’s tournament against 20 teams representing 16 colleges and universities through the Northeast. Competing schools included Cornell University, the University of Rochester, Colgate University, and the University of Toronto.

“Although our teams did not end up advancing to the Opening Round Championships, they had a great weekend and were competitive until the very end,” Ben-Merre said.



Pictured from left: Marissa LaMarti, Taylor Seymour, Lindsey Roth, Taliyah Gordon, John Quinane, Mimi Byrne, Charlie Rowe, Bathena Toussaint, Julianna Kraft, Grace Gallagher, David Ben-Merre (coach), Dominique Zirpola, Hailey Ables, Julianna Zhina, Zoe Mathias, Josh-Lynne Jenifer. (Not pictured: Deanna Pluas).