Back to back championships as FIU Law wins AAJ Regional
Florida International College of Law’s Trial Team won the Southeast 1 Region at this year’s Student Trial Advocacy Competition (STAC), sponsored by the American Association for Justice (AAJ).
FIU Law bested nationally-ranked University of South Carolina in the finals.
This is the Trial Team’s second win in a row. FIU won the Florida state championship – the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition, sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar – eight weeks ago.
Repeating as champion double-advocates are Victoria Thacker and Forrest J. Wilson. Double-witness Alexander A. Pollock also returns as champion, with double-witnesses Stephanie Peña, a Bedell quarter-finalist advocate/witness, rounding out the winning team.
This year’s AAJ competition was virtual and comprised of eight national regions, with 128 teams competing in total, 16 teams in each region.
In Southeast 1 Region, FIU was power-ranked third after three preliminary rounds and increased its power-rank to second going into the finals, where they proved victorious by a decisive 4-1 juror vote over South Carolina.
Teams in region included Florida State, Stetson, Florida, Ave Maria, Akron, Georgia State, Loyola-New Orleans, LSU, Mercer, Tulane, and Wayne State.
FIU Law Trial Team now goes on to AAJ nationals, where the winning teams from all eight regions across the country will vie for the title.
Competing alongside FIU Law will be American, Cumberland, DePaul, Duquesne, Georgetown, NYU, Pace, Penn. State, St. Mary’s, Temple, University of Alabama, University of California Berkeley, University of California Davis, University of California Los Angeles, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Maryland, Washington University, and Stetson, also representing the Southeast 1 Region.
This year’s competition trial is a wrongful death case alleging negligence against a property management company after an elevated, residential wooden deck collapsed under the weight of some 50 hard-partying college seniors, killing one of them.
The AAJ team began preparing the day after the Bedell competition concluded in late January to get ready for trial. The team scrimmaged against Temple and American in preparation for the competition.
“Going into AAJ, having just won Bedell, these students knew full well that no worthwhile accomplishment comes easily, and how difficult it was going to be to repeat as champions,” said Professor H. Scott Fingerhut, assistant director of the Trial Advocacy Program and the team’s lead coach. “But together, these students held steadfast to a noble goal: That growing to our full potential meant embracing a challenge to draw out our deeper resources, talents, and capacities — those we did not know we had — to surmount obstacles by summoning up our daring and creativity. This kind of challenge, familiar to great athletes, scientists, and artists, to be sure, is not for the meek. And now, having risen to this occasion and seizing this grand opportunity, these magnificent students of passion and principle may hold their heads high for having weathered a storm, proudly displaying our special FIU Law trial advocacy brand, and thriving, as Hemingway wrote, ‘stronger at the broken places.’”
Other coaches included alumna Annasofia A. Roig, Adjunct Professor Ari S. Goldberg, and Professor H.T. Smith.