Op-ed: Utica University’s Mock Trial Team Powers Forward Towards Regionals After St. Bonaventure Tournament


Bernard Hyman

Megan Tierney and Nolan Hyman after being awarded with the Outstanding Attorney award at the St. Bonaventure 11th Annual Friar Face-Off Tournament Closing Ceremony.

Nolan Hyman, Contributing Writer

On Nov. 4, 2022, the Utica University Mock Trial Team traveled to St. Bonaventure University to compete in the 11th Annual Friar Face-Off Tournament. After four rounds of trials over the span of two days, with two rounds per day, the tournament came to a close on Nov. 6.

With an increase in members and the ability to travel, St. Bonaventure is the first in-person tournament that the team has been able to compete in. Weeks later, after competing against schools such as SUNY Geneseo, Brandeis University, and Ithaca College, the team is reflecting on the events of that weekend.

“The team proved at St. Bonaventure that we can go toe to toe with the best teams in our region,” said Matthew Bailey, the president of Utica’s Mock Trial Team. “With the right changes and preparation, we will be a force in AMTA Regionals.”

Bailey has served on the Executive Board as President of the team since his sophomore year in May 2022. He initially joined the team his freshman year at Utica, but the team has not been able to compete in-person for the past two years due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utica University Mock Trial Team enjoying dinner together after the first two rounds of the St. Bonaventure Tournament. Pictured from left to right are Dzana Borovic, Ajla Ademovic, Megan Tierney, Doug Roser, Matt Bailey, Tim Barcomb, Nick Massa, and Kyle Mitchell. (Nolan Hyman)

“I thought the team did well for our first invitational and proved to ourselves we have the potential to go far in [the] National Tournament,” Bailey said. “We just need to keep working hard and pushing ourselves.”

The team has 10 members in total, and there are six attorneys split between the two sides, Plaintiff and Defense, while the remaining competing members play witness roles. Each member is dedicated to working hard and proving those wrong who doubt the team wrong, Matt Bailey said.

On the first day of the tournament, the Plaintiff team competed in the first round, and the Defense team competed in the second. The next morning, the Defense competed first, and the Plaintiff went up against Ithaca College in the last round of the invitational.

At the closing ceremony, two members from the team, first-year Megan Tierney and sophomore Nolan Hyman, were each awarded with Outstanding Attorney. The award is given to those who rank the highest individually in the rounds that the team competed in.

Not knowing whether or not she was going to win the award until the final round, Megan Tierney was shocked when they announced her name during the closing ceremony, she said.

“It really meant a lot, because it showed that all my hard work and dedication really went towards something,” said Tierney, a first-year Criminal Justice major.

After competing on her highschool Mock Trial team since her freshman year, Tierney joined the Utica Mock Trial Team in the beginning of the Fall semester, and has “absolutely loved” her time on the team so far. The team has become a group of her closest friends, she said.

“The way we worked together as a team is absolutely phenomenal,” Tierney said. “We immediately clicked, and we knew what each other were thinking.”

The team not only bonded while preparing for the case, but the invitational also gave them a chance to strengthen that bond.

“This team is like a family, we absolutely love each other,” she said. “We tease each other, we have fun, and truly I would not want to do this club with anyone else.”

While staying at the hotel, the team would get food together and stay up until 4 a.m. prepping the case. During that time, members would help each other with practicing their case in chief as well as making objections.

“This year’s team has the best work ethic and dedication of any team we have had in my time at Utica,” Bailey said.

Staying up until 4 a.m. might seem stressful, but the team made it easy for each other. The support that builds around Mock Trial is what has fueled her passion for Mock Trial all these years, Tierney said.

“We inspire each other to be the best that we can be,” she said. “Being able to help somebody else on the team is what makes it worth it, and you don’t even realize how fast time is flying.”

Tierney played on both the Plaintiff alongside co-counsel Matthew Bailey and Timothy Barcomb, as well on the Defense alongside Ajla Ademovic and Nolan Hyman. Competing in the witness roles were Dzana Borovic, Nick Massa, Doug Roser, and Matt Bailey.“This award isn’t just for me, it shows the dedication of this whole team,” Tierney said. “I couldn’t have gotten to this point if it wasn’t for them.”

The team will be competing in the AMTA Regionals Tournament in February 2023 at the University of Buffalo, and the team has stuck to their practice schedule of weekly meetings on Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

“Although we didn’t score well at the invitational, we made significant progress during the invitational and I’m encouraged by where we’re at,” said Professor Bernard Hyman, the faculty advisor for the team. “The individual accomplishments of all of our team members shows me that we have what it takes to compete at a high level.”