A murder trial focusing on the poisoning of a wealthy tycoon will pit 140 of the nation's top law students against each other during the University at Buffalo Law School's fourth annual Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Tournament in the City Court Building beginning Friday.
The competition includes law students from UB and 37 other schools. The mock trial will use 20 courtrooms at the Delaware Avenue courthouse beginning at 2 p.m. Friday and continue there through Sunday.
Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk, who has coordinated the competition in recent years, said the finals will be held in the Francis M. Letro Courtroom at UB Law School's Amherst Campus at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Franczyk said the downtown courthouse "will be buzzing with first-rate advocacy every day . . . as the students try both sides of a murder case before local judges and attorney evaluators."
The murder plot involves evidence possibly incriminating everybody involved in the millionaire's life, including his butler, his estate attorney, a niece, a failed playwright, a university chancellor and a budding starlet, all of whom had a motive to kill, Franczyk said.
Franczyk praised Buffalo's Phillips, Lytle firm for sponsoring this year's competition and helping make it what many consider to be the best trial competition for law students in the country.
The mock trial tournament is the brainchild of the late Robert M. Murphy, one of area's legendary trial attorneys. Franczyk said Murphy championed mock trial competitions for years and coached the UB law teams, spending much of his own money and devoting hundreds of hours to fostering the competition.
In addition to students from UB, the competition will draw teams from such universities as Syracuse, St. John's, Temple and Michigan State.
"This is a great opportunity for UB Law School, our legal community and the City of Buffalo to shine for the rest of the country," Franczyk said.
He said a highlight of the competition will be an awards dinner at Pettibones Grille in Dunn Tire Park beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday.