David v. Goliath

Patrick Pilette

A letter to the Editor

After competing in three rounds of the American Mock Trial Association’s Regional Tournament at Suffolk Superior Courthouse, Suffolk University’s Mock Trial Team was faced with a tough decision.  The team experienced two heartbreaking losses and had already been eliminated from the next round of the tournament when Sunday’s fourth and final round approached. The future lawyers contemplated accentuating their Boston accents, trying to see who could say “America” the most, and using as many lines from A Few Good Men as possible throughout the trial.  Then they heard they would be facing Harvard University in the final round.  With their fierce presence and outstanding prior performances, Harvard was considered to be the Goliath of the American Mock Trial Association, outscoring their opponents by a combined 96 points after three rounds of the tournament.

Suffolk’s amateur litigators had a brief team meeting.  Junior witness Zack Montalto offered inspiration in the form of Sun Tzu when he said “someone fights their hardest when their back is against the wall.”  Right then and there, the team had an important decision to make.  Should they throw in the towel or go down swinging against the juggernaut?  The result of the meeting was the decision not to go down without a fight.

The Suffolk University team represented the Defendant, HappyLand Toy Company, while the Harvard team manned the side of the Plaintiff, Andy Davis.  The lawsuit involved the death of Andy Davis’ two-year-old son, Joey.  Davis sued the toy company and claimed that his son had died after swallowing twenty-five “Princess Beads”, a product designed, produced, and sold by HappyLand.  Harvard alleged that the toy company made a “deadly decision” to put the chemical “1,4 Butandiol” in their beads because the binding agent metabolized into the harmful Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid.  When Suffolk University assumed the role of the Plaintiff in their two previous trials, they were represented by Senior Attorneys Alex Ritterhaus, Pat Pilette, and Junior Jim Duffy.  Witnesses for the Plaintiff included Juniors Jill Guilfoyle, Zack Montalto, and Freshman Pat Munnelly. Suffolk’s Plaintiff team argued that the Defendant “chose” to use the lethal chemical in their product.

As the Defendant, HappyLand Toy Company, the young litigators brought forth an affirmative defense where comparative fault was the issue at hand.  In other words, HappyLand alleged that the Plaintiff, Andy Davis, and his babysitter, Brett Miller, were at least half responsible for Joey Davis’ death.  Suffolk’s Defense team argued that the case was emotional, but the Jury needed to set their emotions aside and concentrate on the facts as well as the law.  They quoted Aristotle when they said, “the law is reason free of passion and because of this, you can’t find HappyLand liable”.  Senior Attorneys Alex Ritterhaus, Pat Pilette, and Junior Jim Duffy represented the Defendant.  Witnesses for the Defendant included Juniors Lindsay Duffy, Huy Le and Sophomore Tom Logan.

The Suffolk University Mock Trial Team fought long and hard during the trial, having their backs against the wall the entire time.  However, the persistent team never backed down from the mighty Harvard.  The trial resulted in a tie on one judges’ ballot and Suffolk lost by only one point on another ballot. Junior witness Lindsay Duffy was very convincing and claimed first place on one judges’ witness ranking.  Junior attorney James Duffy delivered his habitual stellar performance, taking second place on both judges’ attorney rankings.  Suffolk’s young attorneys handed Harvard University it’s only tie of the competition and prevented them from getting first place.  David had brought down the mighty Goliath.  Sorry Harvard, maybe next year.

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