Monday, July 24, 2017

VBA’s First Annual Trial Academy a Success!

Thanks to the invaluable contributions of many, including presiding judges from the federal, state and Vermont Supreme Court benches; Vermont Fellows from the American College of Trial Lawyers; VBA Young Lawyers Division members and volunteers from the Consumer Assistance Program and the Vermont Law School, the 1st Annual VBA Trial Academy was roundly applauded by all who were involved in the day-long program on July 21.

The VBA was delighted to organize an opportunity for lawyers to present a variety of trial segments in either a criminal and a civil mock trial setting. Each participating lawyer was critiqued in individual courtrooms by one of the following volunteer presiding judges: U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss, Justices Harold Eaton and Karen Carroll, and Vermont Superior Court Judges Thomas Zonay, Cortland Corsones, Samuel Hoar and David Fenster.  American College of Trial Lawyers Vermont Fellows David Cleary, Richard Rubin, Karen McAndrew, James Murdoch, Bobby Sand, Bill Leckerling and Peter Joslin joined the judges in offering thoughtful and detailed critiques of the lawyer participants as they presented opening statements, direct and cross examinations of fact and expert witnesses, and closing statements in seven classrooms, each set up as courtrooms at VLS. All the participating lawyers were incredibly well prepared and the presiding judges and fellows offered meaningful suggestions.

YLD members Sebastian Arduengo, Charles Romeo, Timothy Fair, Paula LeBlanc, Cielo Mendoza, Jennifer Hartman and Alison Milbury Stone ably served as the witnesses being examined, potentially as fact or expert witnesses, with up to 6 different character roles demanded of them for each trial.  Jason Duquette-Hoffman and Lauren Dunn Jandl from the Consumer Assistance Program joined VLS students Bomy Hwang, Rasheta Butler, Kassie Tibbott, Adam Dennaoui and Ted Leckerling as timekeepers in each courtroom to ensure equal time for the presentations and critiques. VBA Executive Director Teri Corsones presented all of the volunteer judges, fellows, witnesses and timekeepers with baked goods as a small token of appreciation for all of their donated time and expertise.

To kick off the event, the newly installed Vermont Law School Dean and President Thomas McHenry welcomed all to the Trial Academy at VLS, while Vermont Disciplinary Counsel Sarah Katz spoke briefly to the group as part of the Professional Responsibility Program’s outreach program.  To close the event, all attended a brief plenary debriefing as each volunteer judge spoke a bit about their day’s experience, the quality of the presentations before them and the importance of trial advocacy education. Teri Corsones thanked everyone for their generosity, and responded enthusiastically to participants’ requests for the planning of a 2nd Annual VBA Trial Academy next year!

Please enjoy pictures from the event, below!

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