Where are you now?
Senior at Florida State University, 2013 American Mock Trial Association National Champion.
How, if at all, did the Empire help you get there?
The 2009 Empire was my first opportunity to compete in mock trial on a national level. I was able to take the things I learned from my exposure to the high level of advocacy at the tournament and incorporate those things into the running of my college program. I took what I learned at the Empire and immediately made our program a national contender. Three years later, at the end of my third season at Florida State, we won the American Mock Trial Association National Championship in Washington DC. If I had not competed at the Empire, it is very unlikely I would be in the same position today. It all came full circle when my team was invited to compete at the Downtown Invitational, also hosted by Empire Mock Trial, in January of 2014. Staying at the Brooklyn Marriott and competing at the Kings County Courthouse brought back all the memories of an incredible weekend I had 4 years earlier.
What’s your favorite Empire moment?
In my last Empire closing argument, we were on prosecution and the defense was running what I like to call the “Empty Chair Defense,” where the defendant does not sit at counsel table because he “does not belong there.” About halfway through my closing, I felt that sitting in their empty chair would be the best way to get my point across. I ended up giving a good chunk of my closing while sitting in the defendant’s chair. The atmosphere of the Empire, along with the strength of every team I faced, gave me the confidence to try something like that.
How would you describe the Empire to someone that has never been?
It’s the best mock trial the high school level can offer, period. Every team you face is either a National Champion, a State Champion, or an excellent team from a very competitive state like California, Pennsylvania, or New York. It’s a chance to compete against the best young advocates and actors in the country in a setting that brings out the best in everyone. There is something about being in New York City that amplifies the pressure, intensity, and excitement that already accompanies competing in mock trial. Whether you win, lose, or draw, you will walk away from the Empire a better advocate, witness, and person.