Caroline Power of Temple University, Beasley School of Law took home the top prize at Baylor Law School's 2014 Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition on June 8. Along with being named Top Gun, Power also received a prize of $10,000.
Sherri Mazur of Faulkner University, Jones School of Law won second place.
“This is the toughest competition I’ve been in,” Power said. “It also is the best competition I’ve ever been to — just the dynamics of it, the pressure of it, also how amazingly well it’s run. I really have to applaud the whole (Baylor Law School) staff. Not only are they there when we need them, but they are always happy and that is great when you are working until 2 a.m. to try a case at 9 a.m.”
Founded in 2010, the invitation-only Top Gun competition creates a challenging atmosphere for competitors and already is being called one of the most challenging mock trial tournaments in the nation. 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 related to the hypothetical case. Shortly before each round, competitors are assigned a witness or witnesses who may be used at participants' discretion during the round. As the tournament progresses, new pieces of evidence or additional witnesses are introduced, further challenging the competitors. The jurors for each round are composed of distinguished trial lawyers and judges. The presiding judge in the final round of the competition was Leonard E. Davis, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
“Both competitors were so talented and so fluid, so articulate, so persuasive. It was a really close competition,” Davis said.
The Top Gun National 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 regarding copyright law. A publisher was accused of encouraging a novice writer to take elements from an established writer’s series of children’s books. Real-life children’s book author John Erickson of the famed “Hank the Cowdog” series played himself in the final round of the tournament.
“I think it’s the premiere mock trial competition in the country,” said Roy Barrett, chairman of the board of the Waco office of Naman Howell Smith & Lee PLLC, who also served as a juror in the final round. “This one puts more pressure on the advocate and requires more intense preparation and really will tell you whether or not these people have acquired the skills necessary to try a lawsuit.”
Along with Baylor Law School, the 2014 Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition was sponsored by Naman Howell Smith & Lee.
(Photo Caption: Temple University, Beasley School of Law student Caroline Power receiving Baylor Law School's 2014 Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition prize. On the right is Leonard E. Davis, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. On the left is Roy Barrett, chairman of the board of the Waco office of Naman Howell Smith & Lee PLLC, one of the sponsors of the tournament)