Trial Advocacy Mock Trial Team Advances to Nationals

Trial Advocacy Mock Trial TeamAfter winning the regional American Association of Justice Student Trial Advocacy Tournament in Albuquerque, a four-member team from the UNM School of Law joined 13 teams in the national competition in West Palm Beach, FL, in early April. After competing against three schools, they did not advance.

Team members were (pictured l-r) Ryan McKelvey, Amanda Connor, Erin McSherry and Charles Kalm, all second-year law students. They were coached by David Fine (`02) of the Fine Law Firm and Derek Weems (`06) of Dorato & Weems, both former UNM mock trial team members. An additional UNM team comprised of 2Ls Samantha Barncastle, Brian Close and Johnn Osborn, along with Shoshanah Epstein, a 3L, prepared as an alternate team, but did not compete at the regional competition because no other team dropped out to make room for them.

The students practiced up to five times a week beginning in early January, until the late March regional competition, which brought 15 teams to Albuquerque. The problem involved a civil premises liability lawsuit. In order to advance to the final rounds, the UNM team was ranked as one of the top 14 teams out of 248 teams from 147 law schools across the country.

The UNM students, all who were competing in their first mock trial ever, went up against mostly 3L students, many of whom had been participating in national mock trial competitions since high school. At the national competition, they had trials against Suffolk University Law School, University of Akron School of Law and Baylor Law School. The team from Stetson University College of Law took first place.

"The team competed incredibly well," said Weems. "At nationals, UNM obtained a very difficult draw, competing with some of the elite trial advocacy programs in the nation, yet kept each trial incredibly close. Although UNM did not ultimately win the national competition, the team had a wonderful time that punctuated hours, days and weeks of lengthy work."

The UNM team and coaches would like to thank the following people and sponsors for their assistance:

Volunteer Judges

Brent Bailey
Ramon Carrillo (`94)
Letitia Carroll (`08)
Matt Clarke (`07)
Nate Cobb (`08)
Rozan Cruz (`95)
Patrick Griebel (`02)
Charles Lakins (`01)
Stephen Lane (`08)
Heather Massoth (`08)
Darryl Millet (`00)
Fred Mowrer
John Sugg (`07)

Other Volunteers

Nancy Hollander (`79)
Maureen Sanders (`79)
Linda Vanzi (`95)
Ray Vargas (`71)
Lisa Vigil

National Competition Trip Sponsors

Damon Ely
Gaddy Jaramillo
Garcia & Vargas
New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association
Randy Knudson (`80)
Randi McGinn (`80)
Morgan & Macy
Saenz & Torres
Vigil Law Firm