Top Gun 2013
Collin Tierney, a student at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, took home the top prize at Baylor Law School's 2013 Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition on June 9. Along with being named Top Gun, Tierney received a prize of $10,000.
Kaitlyn Flynn of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University won second place.
"I actually had known about Top Gun for several years and it was my dream just to be invited here," Tierney said. "It was amazing to win a national championship; something I have been chasing ever since I was competing in mock trial while in high school."
Founded in 2010, the invitation-only Top Gun competition creates a challenging atmosphere for competitors. Unlike other mock trial competitions, participants do not receive the case file until they arrive in Waco -- just 24 hours before the first round of trials begin.
Preparation includes reviewing depositions, records and photographs, and taking a trip to the actual places where events in the hypothetical case occurred. Shortly before each round, competitors are assigned a witness or witnesses who may be used at participants' discretion during the round. The jurors for each round are distinguished trial lawyers and judges.
The National Top Gun Mock Trial Competition is limited to 16 law schools with a single student, instead of the usual two, representing each school. Baylor Law, as the organizing institution, does not field a team.
This year, the competitors argued a case concerning an Afghan war veteran who was accidentally shot by a fellow veteran and permanently disabled during a fight outside of a local bar. The court was asked to decide whether the shooting stemmed from the bar negligently serving alcohol to the veteran who committed the shooting or whether post-traumatic stress syndrome was the underlying cause of the incident.
"After watching this competition I can tell you that there are no losers," said Roy Barrett, president of the Waco office of Naman Howell Smith & Lee PLLC. "The only lawyers who lose are those who do not zealously and properly represent their clients."
Along with Baylor Law School, the 2013 Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition was sponsored by Naman Howell Smith & Lee, which has offices in Austin, Fort Worth, Harker Heights, Temple and Waco.