Coached by Broward County criminal defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich and Assistant United States Attorney Michael Gilfarb, the American Heritage School Mock Team won for the second time Saturday the state championship hosted by the Florida Law Related Education Association (F.L.R.E.A) in Orlando, according to American Heritage program director, Nikki Ippolitto Laurie.
Advancing over 16 other Florida teams, American Heritage successfully argued a simulated criminal case in the State of Florida vs. Regan Buschell. Beating out Lincoln High School, the American Heritage Patriots conducted opening and closing statements and performed direct as well as cross examinations.
Tried in ceremonial courtroom 23A of the Orange County Courthouse - the same courtroom in which infamous alleged child-killer Casey Anthony was tried - this year's mock trial problem was an aggravated battery case.
“As always, I'm proud of our team,” head coach Eric Schwartzreich told Examiner. “They excelled and exceeded all expectations from winning the state competition in previous competitions to placing in the top 20 teams at the national competition, to placing in the top 5th in the Empire Invitational, an international mock trial competition held every year in New York City.”
The American Heritage School Mock Team was represented by student lawyers Kendall Findlay, Monique Eloi and Brendan Krimsky. Witnesses included students Matthew Robinson, Elizabeth Flynn, Isabel Gabaldon, Carlos Zapata, Heidar Aliyev and Matthew Robinson - who won best witness.
A special mention went out to American Heritage students Rayne Sullivan and Michael Chhabra. Both of these students were instrumental in advancing the team to the state championship with their performance at the Empire Mock Trial Tournament in New York.
“I have never seen a more determined, tireless, consistent, cohesive group of students,” stated co-Coach Michael Gilfarb. “Collectively, they have competed in numerous competitions at the county, state, national, and international level, winning these awards and accolades during their years of competition.
Following American Hertiage School as state champion, Lincoln High School of Tallahassee placed second, Fort Myers High School placed third, Boone High School of Orlando placed fourth and Tate High School of Cantonment, Florida placed fifth.
American Heritage will now proceed to the NHSMTC National High School Mock Trial Championship from May 9-11, in Indianapolis where they will be challenged by not only the best in America but England and Australia as well.
"American Heritage prepares these students extremely well,” concluded Schwartzreich, who has coached the team the past seven years. “These are high school students who take classes in evidence, constitutional law and trial advocacy. By the time they get to law school they are incredibly prepared and are truly mock stars.”