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STUDENT·SPOTLIGHT

Students sharpen skills in fictitious courtroom drama

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here was something fishy about the case. Sarah Salmon, a 14-year-old girl, is found murdered. Richard Grouper, a neighbor and convicted sex offender, is the chief suspect. A key witness, David Mackerel, has vanished. Detective Dana Tarpon uncovers incriminating evidence inside Grouper's house and motor home. Conflicting statements, reports of parental abuse and a large insurance policy cast suspicion on Sarah's father, Paul Salmon. The jury cannot reach a verdict. The fictitious case was retried as part of the Quinnipiac intramural mock trial competition in September. Forty School of Law students competed in the annual event, which is sponsored by the Mock Trial Honor Society. The purpose of the competition is twofold, according to Christopher Petter, president of the society. It provides an opportunity for students to experience a full trial, and it is used as a basis for membership in the society. This year, 18 of the 40 participants, including the four finalists and five award winners, were extended invitations to join the team. Two teams advanced to the final round. The team of Keith Zackowitz and Zachary Goldsmith took first place. Corinne Abbott and James Cresswell were runners-up. Abbott and Cresswell acted as the defense attorneys while Zachowitz and Goldsmith served as prosecutors. "Competing in mock trial may have changed my view of what area of law I would like to pursue when I graduate," said Abbott, a second-year law student. Individual awards went to Keith Zackowitz '10 (best opening statement); Natasha

Rabinovich '10 (best direct examination); Sarah Casey '09 (best cross examination); Brynne McCabe '09 (best closing statement); and James Cresswell '11 (best overall advocate). It was Cresswell's first competition. "Being able to stand in front of everyone, step into the shoes of an attorney, and get a sense of what that was like was an incredible feeling." He noted that the most challenging aspect of the competition was "trying to determine how to shape and couch facts and testimony in a way that best furthered our case." That was also the most fun part, he added.

Front row from left: Judge Cara F. Eschuk from Naugatuck, Corinne Abbott '10, Dean Saxton, Attorney Jonathan P. Ciottone from Halloran & Sage LLP in Harford. Back row: Keith Zackowitz '10, Zachary Goldsmith '10, James Cresswell '11.

Trial advocacy team makes semifinals in contest

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t was a case of identity theft, involving a stolen credit card, a widescreen television, a Blu-ray disk player and some pornographic DVDs. In the State of Quinnipiac v. Jordan Parr, the accused allegedly stole and used a credit card belonging to his girlfriend's father, Dr. Cameron T. Scott, purchasing more than $11,000 in merchandise on Amazon.com. Parr was charged with identity theft, larceny in the first degree and possession of a stolen credit card. Trials were held as part of the ninth annual Quinnipiac University Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition. Eight schools participated, including teams from Quinnipiac, Brooklyn Law School, the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, the George Washington University

Law School, Georgia State University College of Law, Pace University School of Law and the University of Connecticut School of Law. The competition fact pattern was created by third-year law student Amy Calvo and Professor Elizabeth Marsh, who oversees the criminal law and advocacy concentration in the School of Law. "The competition provides an excellent opportunity for students to meld their classroom skills with the practical skills they will need as trial attorneys," said Marsh, who noted that four of the teams in this year's event came from schools that had been invited to participate in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy's Tournament of Champions. Representing Quinnipiac were Christopher Petter, Karla Rood, Alex Sarris, Keith Zachowitz and alternate Sarah Casey. Rood and Sarris, both third-year students,

acted as the defense attorneys. The Quinnipiac team advanced to the semifinal round, but was defeated by the George Washington University School of Law team, which won the competition. U.S. District Court Judge Alvin W. Thompson presided over the final round. Petter, a third-year student and president of the Mock Trial Honor Society, said, "There is nothing quite like standing up in front of the jury box, and actually feeling like you have made a connection." Sarris won the award for best closing argument. He was able to poke holes in the prosecution's case that Parr knowingly used the plaintiff 's credit card. He argued that the state's case hinged on a critical piece of evidence--a windbreaker containing the missing credit card. He cast suspicion on Parr's girlfriend, Taylor Scott, who also had access to the jacket, as well as a motive for revenge. 11

WINTER 2009 · QUINNIPIAC LAW

STUDENT·SPOTLIGHT

When a search without a warrant is valid Student helps with lemon law

braham Hurdle, a second-year student, is helping Law Professor Marilyn Ford and a Connecticut legislator who are attempting to squeeze more juice out of the state's lemon law. Sen. Robert Duff, D-Norwalk, has submitted a bill to a legislative committee after agreeing with Ford that consumers who buy lower-priced vehicles could use enhanced protection. Ford is representing a Norwalk, Conn., man fighting for a refund from the Norwalk car dealer who sold him a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta last fall that overheated shortly after he drove off the lot. After the consumer picked up the repaired vehicle, the engine blew three days later. The dealer refused to give the buyer's money back, and the lemon law did not apply because the car was more than seven years old. Section B of Connecticut's Lemon Law requires dealers who sell a used car costing $3,000 but less than $5,000 to warranty the full cost of both parts and labor and to guarantee that the vehicle is mechanically sound and will remain so for at least 30 days or 1,500 miles. For cars costing $5,000 and above, the warranty is extended to 60 days or 3,000 miles. However, Section C states these provisions do not apply to motor vehicles seven years and up. Hurdle notes that many autos made in the last decade still are considered good cars after seven years. "This law does not protect low-income folks and young people with only $5,000 to $6,000 to spend on a car," says Hurdle, who is Ford's research assistant.

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an a search without a warrant be legal? It can if there are exigent circumstances, such as the immediate physical danger of the arresting officer or another person. This issue was examined as part of the 2008 Dean Terence H. Benbow Intramural Moot Court Competition in October. It was just such a circumstance that led Police Officer Richard Wang to enter Mikey Walsh's trailer without a warrant. Walsh was under arrest on a drugrelated charge. Wang claimed that the need to obtain a shirt and shoes for Walsh before taking him into custody constituted an exigent circumstance. Walsh claimed his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated and the evidence found--a 9mm handgun--was inadmissible in court. Walsh, a convicted felon, was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm. His attorney appealed and was granted a hearing to determine whether an exigent circumstance existed. Fifteen students conducted the appeals in the competition, which

was sponsored by the Quinnipiac Moot Court Honor Society. Connecticut Supreme Court justices Flemming L. Norcott and William J. Sullivan and Judge Thomas A. Bishop of the Appellate Court of Connecticut presided. In a competitive matchup, Brian Valko (arguing for the appellant) narrowly defeated Elyssa Kosowicz (acting as opposing counsel). Valko, a second-year student, also won the award for best brief. Kosowicz, a third-year student, was chosen best oralist. "All of the competitors were very skilled, and it required a great amount of time organizing, researching and practicing my arguments to be prepared for each round," Kosowicz said. "We also were able to hone our oratorical and interpersonal skills in front of a panel of judges, rather than being limited to the strict format we are faced in most of our classes," Valko said. "They get to know a case inside and out--really seeing it from all angles," explained Professor Joseph Olivenbaum.

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Susan Linker of Connecticut Votes for Animals at the forum.

Examining animal cruelty

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Elyssa Kosowicz and Brian Valko at moot court competition 12

QUINNIPIAC LAW · WINTER 2009

ustice for Animals: The State of the Law in Connecticut" was the topic of a forum at the School of Law Center in October. More than 100 attendees, including law students and professors, several lawyers from Connecticut, and animal welfare activists from throughout New England, gathered to hear presentations addressing animal cruelty and ensuing forms of violence. The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association and the School of Law's Animal Law Society. Kerry Patton, president of QU's Animal Law Society, said that research done on adult violent offenders shows that a good number abused animals as children. Jeanne Milstein, the state's child advocate, emphasized that children's abusive actions toward animals should not be overlooked or dismissed lightly. Other speakers included: Dana Campbell, who represents the Animal Legal Defense Fund's Criminal Justice Program; Joseph LaMotta, assistant state's attorney from New Haven; and State Rep. Diana Urban D-Stonington, chair of a legislative task force investigating animal cruelty and violence.

Passionate about rights

Immigrants have ally in Briand

By Donna Pintek

iving and working in a battered women's shelter in Chicago was a turning point in Danielle (Robinson) Briand's life. There, she met Lupe and her 8-yearold son Pancho. Lupe had moved to the U.S. with her husband and suffered repeated beatings at his hand. She desperately wanted to improve her situation. For several months, Briand tutored Lupe in English--an arduous task considering the fact that Lupe was nearly illiterate in her native Spanish. "What impressed me was her level of commitment. She knew that her son would have a better life in the U.S. and was determined to give him that chance," Briand said. During the next few years, Briand helped several women like Lupe, undocumented immigrants whose plight reinforced her commitment to social work and eventually inspired her to pursue a career in immigration law. Now a second-year student at Quinnipiac School of Law, she intends to use her degree to fight for basic human rights. Much of her time is devoted to the work of the International Human Rights Law Society, a student organization she helped found in Fall 2007. The society's purpose is to raise awareness about important human rights issues. As co-president, Briand helps organize events such as the Rights Work Speaker Series. Other initiatives include establishing a connection with the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac and sponsoring a petition to create an international law concentration. "We think it would benefit the law school to have a program that reflects global concerns," Briand said. Before embarking on her legal studies, the Monroe, Conn., native spent six years studying and working in the field of anthropology, earning her BA from Yale University and her MA from the University of Oregon. Her goal is help improve the lives of immigrants and refugees. Many end up in resettlement agencies such as Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, where Briand works as a volunteer. IRIS assists individuals who apply for green cards, work visas or citizenship. To Briand, helping them is a natural extension of her training in anthropology. "My orientation is not just to be a lawyer; it's more about impacting my local community and the global community." Her community involvement and academic achievement earned her a dean's scholarship, which covers the full cost of her tuition. During her first year of law school, Briand received distinguished academic achievement honors and earned second place in the John A. Speziale Award for Excellence in Written Advocacy. She also received a Public Interest Law Project grant. As if the rigors of law school and volunteer work weren't enough of a challenge, Briand completed her first year while

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she was pregnant, and gave birth to a son, Connor Michael, in August 2008. Thanks to the support of her family, she has been able to make the most of her available time. Briand notes that immigration law is an area prone to abuse and corruption. She believes a lawyer needs to have integrity, as well as understanding and compassion. "It's important to develop a reputation as an honest, hardworking individual," she said. Illegal immigration in the U.S. has become an especially divisive issue--a problem Briand attributes to the government's failure to manage an increasing demand for migrant labor. Having worked directly with many of these individuals, she has witnessed first-hand their self-sacrifice and dedication. "To correct this social problem, we must reevaluate our immigration policy to accommodate the labor demand and thereby create a more equitable situation for millions of people," she said. One thing Briand recognized while working in Chicago was "how the lawyers really cared about their clients and worked hard to explain the legal process. Those who are interested only in making money do a disservice to their clients."

WINTER 2009 · QUINNIPIAC LAW

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