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Zimmerman attorneys to speak at trial competition


Published November 1, 2013

Two key members of the defense team that won acquittal for the defendant in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida will be in Buffalo on Nov. 7 as part of the 10th annual Buffalo Niagara Trial Competition, hosted by the UB Law School.

Attorneys Mark O’Mara, lead counsel for George Zimmerman, and Don West, a 1980 graduate of UB Law School, will be part of a panel presentation titled “Success at Every Stage of Trial.” They will be joined by distinguished legal figures Terrence M. Connors, ’71, of Connors and Vilardo LLP; Paul J. Cambria Jr. of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP; Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio and Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, ’92.

The panel presentation will take place during a seminar from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Buffalo Convention Center. The audience will consist of top student advocates from 36 law schools who will be competing in the trial competition. The competition runs Nov. 8-11. Local attorneys and judges, many of whom will be judging or evaluating the student trials, also are expected to attend the seminar.

“This is a great opportunity for aspiring and practicing trial lawyers to hear the secrets of success from those who have succeeded at the highest levels of the profession,” says Thomas P. Franczyk, an Erie County Court judge who co-directs the Law School’s Trial Advocacy Program with attorney and UB Council member Chris O’Brien of The O’Brien Firm PC.

Franczyk also serves as competition director and will moderate the seminar.

Following the morning session on Nov. 7, students will spend an hour in Erie County Court with prominent local attorney Thomas H. Burton, who will talk to them about the art, science and psychology of successful trial tactics and strategy.

During the competition, which will be held in the courtrooms of Buffalo City Court, student advocates will argue both sides of a fictional homicide case. Defendant JL King, a retired NBA star turned auto dealer, is charged with shooting his former schoolmate and business partner, Shecky Cashman, on King’s front lawn during an early morning altercation. The prosecution alleges that King executed Cashman after disarming him because he believed that Cashman had ripped off their business and slept with his wife. The defendant claims that the gun went off accidentally as he was defending himself and his wife from a masked robber, who turned out to be Cashman.

Four preliminary rounds will be held at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9. The advancing 20 teams will be announced at an awards banquet Nov. 9 in the Buffalo Convention Center. The ensuing rounds will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Nov. 10, with semifinal and championship rounds on Nov. 11 at the same times.

In addition to UB Law School, the competing schools are Catholic, Chicago Kent, Georgia State, Georgia, Pace, Pacific McGeorge, Villanova, Widener-Delaware, St. Mary’s of Texas, Syracuse, Nova, Denver, Houston, Campbell, St. John’s, South Dakota, American, Fordham, Duquesne, Barry, Northwestern, Texas/Austin, Florida State, Creighton, DePaul, Seton Hall, Suffolk, Akron, Connecticut, Cooley, Faulkner, Florida Coastal, Loyola Chicago, Temple, and William and Mary.