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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU’s Owl Mock Trial club dethrones UF from 13-year winning streak

Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Owl Mock Trial club made history at Florida International University’s (FIU) Prowling Panthers competition, winning first place and ending the University of Florida’s (UF) 13-year winning streak.
Courtesy of Frank de la Torre
Frank de la Torre, Justis Sisk, Dara Jaffe, Jazzie Camacho and Alexander Esquen (left to right) celebrate their win by posing a “Number One” hand sign.

Last weekend, FAU’s Owl Mock Trial club made history at FIU’s Prowling Panthers competition by achieving a record-breaking 98-93 victory against UF, where FAU won first place, 4-0 against other universities, reported club advisor Frank de la Torre.

This victory ends UF’s 13-year winning streak as the national no. 1 team in this mock trial circuit. The circuit offers hands-on experience in legal studies as students portray an attorney or witness in a simulated courtroom. 

The Owl Mock Trial team, led by President Alexander Esquen, Vice President Justis Sisk, Treasurer Jazzie Camacho and student Dara Jaffe, secured the first-place win for FAU. During the final round, Esquen and Jaffe presented their closing arguments as attorneys to seal their court case to the judge. Another FAU team at the FIU competition scored 2-0-1, making FAU undefeated.

Camacho shared how her team prepared for the FIU competition this semester. They practiced in test trials with their case and had an experienced judge oversee them to offer feedback. 

“This preparation phase wasn’t just about reading and memorizing; it was an intense period of strategy-building, analyzing the case from every angle — both as the prosecution and defense — and spending countless nights practicing our arguments and presentations,” Camacho said. 

Sisk mentioned that the team engaged in individual competitions at a UF event held two weeks before the FIU competition as a preparatory measure.

“[Also] we have weekly meetings as a club, but it’s on the individual teams to meet outside club times to practice,” Sisk said. “We practiced a lot for this competition and it definitely paid off.”

Also, Sisk reported that the Owl Mock Trial team participated in competitions last semester, including the national championships in Washington, D.C., where they earned fourth place nationwide — without FAU having a law program. 

In late 2021, Esquen founded Owl Mock Trial after noticing FAU lacked a mock trial club and proposed the concept to Professor Wendy Gaustaferro. 

“I recognized how lucky I was to be exposed to mock trials and law at an early age, and I wanted to share that with the FAU community,” Esquen said. “My goal began to shift as time changed, and now I am hoping to build a more positive and communicative law community at FAU, one that allows students to learn and grow from one another and to compete at the highest levels.”

Gaustaferro assigned FAU criminology and criminal justice professor Torre, who has 35 years of experience as a public defender, to advise and coach the club.

“Although FAU does not have a law school, about one-third of criminal justice majors aspire to be lawyers,” Torre said about recruiting students to the club. “Every club member wants to go to law school. It’s a great gathering place for aspiring lawyers.”

Michael Cook is a Staff Writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]


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Michael Cook, News Editor
Michael is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in public relations. He's passionate about film and photography, and his journey into journalism began when he served as an editor for his high school yearbook. Now, he aspires to become a television news producer.

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    Sandra JakubowApr 18, 2024 at 1:42 pm

    Congratulations Owl Mock Trial Club on your win! You make us proud.