Students from Buffalo's Hutchinson-Central Technical High School emerged victorious Tuesday in a vigorous Law Day debate that pitted teams from six local schools in the ceremonial courtroom of Erie County Hall.
On the winning Hutch-Tech team were Ezell Jordan, Patricia Luko and Simon Nash.
State Supreme Court Justice Patrick H. NeMoyer, who judged the competition along with U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. and Buffalo lawyer Terrence M. Connors, said the decision was whisker-thin, "a very close vote."
Students from Cheektowaga Central and Bennett Law Magnet debated whether those who are accused of heinous or notorious crimes should be provided with a taxpayer-funded legal defense.
Hutch-Tech and Hamburg debated whether evidence should be excluded at trials if search-and-seizure laws were violated by law enforcement.
Students from McKinley and Cleveland Hill debated whether the accused should be required to prove their innocence or whether prosecutors should continue be required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Troutman, moderator of the program sponsored by the court district's Committee to Promote Public Trust and Confidence in the Courts, welcomed the students.
Troutman said the Law Day program was dedicated to "The Legacy of John Adams," the nation's second president and a top Colonial lawyer, who defended British troops indicted after the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770, during a tax protest in which five Colonists were killed. The soldiers were acquitted by a jury.
Adams, a leading patriot, took on their unpopular defense, demonstrating "an unwavering belief in the rule of law," Troutman said.
In addition to Hutch-Tech's three students, the teams were:
McKinley -- Garrett Donovan, Alsion Hymers and Montaha Rizeq; Hamburg -- Sean Brown, Nick Evabcho and Taylor Reardon; Bennett -- DeShawn Dozier, Ryan Montgomery and Justen Richardson; Cheektowaga -- Jorge Antonetti, Courtney Ladowski and Courtney Mahoney; and Cleveland Hill -- Joe Ciraolo, Vinko Pavlovic, Omar Ramadhan, Veronica Sanchez and Carl Siegel.
About 150 students from 11 high schools attended the event.