Students impress judge during mock trial

August 6, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Plaintiffs (from left to right): Wensa Pierre, Denise Zeng, Alexandra Rivera, Michael Thomas, Saul Serrano, Hon. Robin K. Sheares, Vlad Shumakovich, Renee Williams, Nyah Robertson and Dmytro Usyk. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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Hon. Robin K. Sheares has presided over many trials in her career, but Wednesday’s trial, which involved students from the Kings County Courts Student Employment and Internship Program, was perhaps one of the most impressive she’s ever seen.

“I think they did a marvelous job,” Sheares said after the mock trial, which involved nearly two dozen students. “I was very impressed. I’ve been doing this for years and years and by far this was the best. Everyone was prepared, we had a witness who was kind of hostile, but they stuck to their guns. It was excellent. I cannot even think of one thing that was not right.”

Wednesday’s mock trial competition took place in the ceremonial courtroom of Brooklyn’s Supreme Court. The students tried out for roles during the first week of the internship program and chose amongst themselves who they thought would play the best lawyers and witnesses during the trial.

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Once each student’s roll was chosen, they were teamed up with a pair of law clerks, Yvonne Marin and Renee Williams, and a pair of students from Brooklyn Law School, Christopher Saverino and Shanzi “Joanna” Yuan, to prepare for the case. The trail at hand — police brutality.

“It really is like a real trial,” said court spokesperson Izetta Johnson. “I look around for something relevant that is going on today so we thought that police brutality would be a good case.”

The students don’t get a script, just the facts of the case, and they took it from there. Everyone was impressed with how serious they took it and how well they performed.

“It always tickles me because they walk into the courtroom and something happens to them,” Johnson said. “They think they’re real lawyers. That’s why it takes so long (about three hours). They’re very serious. There is no way one witness should have been up there for almost an hour. They really get into it and it’s a great learning experience.”

Both Johnson and Judge Sheares said that they wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of the students back in the courtroom as actual attorneys one day. The students enjoyed themselves in the realistic atmosphere and seemed to learn a lot even if they were nervous in front of the judge.

“I never experienced anything like this,” said Saul Serrano, who recently graduated from Kingsborough Early College Secondary School. “I felt that it was good because I didn’t know anything at the start and eventually learned a lot. Our team was really good. I learned a lot from other students (Dmitro Usyk), from (Vlad Shumakovich), from everyone. It was a really good experience.”

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