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UB Law School Hosts Seventh Annual Trial Competition

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: November 10, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A drug-addled, suicidal rock star, a vengeful band mate charged with murder and a greedy son seeking to cash in on a million dollar life insurance policy make up the cast of characters in the case problem for this year's Buffalo Niagara mock trial competition hosted by the University at Buffalo Law School on Nov. 11-14 in the courtrooms of Buffalo City Court.

In this year's competition, 128 student advocates representing 32 law schools from 15 states will try both sides of either the criminal case of People v. Thomas Osiski, or the civil case of the Hartfeldt Insurance Co v. Zak Nugent Siriusz before local judges and attorney evaluators.

"This is the first combination criminal-civil competition of its kind," said Erie County Court Judge Thomas P. Franczyk, competition coordinator and case author.

In the criminal case, the defendant, Thomas Osiski, is accused of shooting Martin Lewis Siriusz in the head as he was recording his final song, "Hanging at Death's Door" not long after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Siriusz had cancelled a reunion tour of his former band, SirOsis, causing his debt-ridden partner, Osiski to miss out on a million dollars in much-needed income.

The prosecution will argue that Osiski murdered Siriusz out of vengeance. The defense will contend that Siriusz either committed suicide or was murdered by his disaffected, grunge rocker son, Zak Nugent Siriusz , the sole beneficiary under his father's life insurance policy.

In the civil case, the parties will spar over the Hartfeldt Insurance Company's refusal to pay out on the policy on the grounds that Siriusz killed himself or was murdered by his son.

Legendary Buffalo guitarist Willie Schoellkopf and his band Stone Bridge (aka "Soriasis," a SirOsis cover band ), will play a variety of songs including Sirosis hits "It's So Schizo" and "Hanging at Death's Door" with help from local musician Michael "Bly" Santa Maria, (a 1999 UB Law School trial teamer), at the competition awards banquet Friday night at the Avant/Embassy Suites.

Local actors will play the part of the witnesses, Zak Nugent Siriusz, Detective Stephen Tyler, Thomas Osiski and Lee Vaughan Helm, a defense expert who will claim that Siriusz' death was a suicide.

The participating schools are: Akron University, American University, Barry University, Brooklyn Law School, Catholic University, Chicago-Kent, Thomas Cooley Law School, Creighton, Duquesne, Faulkner, Florida Coastal, Florida State, Fordham, Georgia State, Georgia, Illinois, John Marshall, Michigan State, Northern Kentucky, Nova, Pace, Pacific McGeorge, South Texas, St. John's, St. Mary's of Texas, Temple, Thomas Jefferson, Villanova, Widener (Del), Widener(Pa) and Wisconsin.