Mock Trial Teams Shine In National Championships
by Alan Hunt
Two Baylor Law School mock trial teams distinguished themselves at prestigious mock trial tournaments held in November.
In New Orleans, Baylor law students Michele Cramer, Shauna Kinney, Marilyn Montano and Eric Porterfield went undefeated (5-0) in winning the 2003 National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' (NACDL) Mock Trial Competition.
And in Akron, Ohio, another Baylor team once again placed in the top ten at the prestigious Tournament of Champions, sponsored by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). The Baylor team placed seventh overall in the contest. Last year, Baylor finished eighth at the Tournament of Champions, and won second place in 2001.
The NACDL invitational criminal trial competition featured 12 teams drawn from over 50 applicant schools nationwide. In their run to victory, Baylor defeated the second-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place teams. Marilyn Montano was named best advocate in the semi-finals, and Eric Porterfield was chosen best overall advocate in the contest.
The tournament, which is held as part of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer's annual convention, draws top teams. This year's field included Temple, Washington University, the University of Texas and Northwestern.
The Baylor team was coached by Professor Mark Osler with the assistance of Adjunct Professor Kathy Serr and Daniel Sorey, a 2003 Baylor law graduate and an associate with the Daingerfield law firm of Nix, Patterson & Roach, L.L.P.
Expressing his pride in the Baylor team's performance, Osler said, "One interesting aspect is that all the judges were criminal defense attorneys--but we won the championship round (and Porterfield won best advocate) as the prosecution." Osler said it was the first time Baylor had competed in the tournament. "For winning, the students won $1500 for themselves and a guaranteed invitation back to next year's tournament for Baylor," he added.
In the NITA tournament, the Baylor team won 3 trials out of 4, missing the break to semi-finals by a single judge's ballot. The Tournament of Champions is a national, invitational mock trial competition. NITA invites the top 16 mock trial schools in the country, based upon their performance over a three-year period.
The Baylor team was comprised of Allen Gardner, Nicole Rodriguez, Richard Vance, Tim Brown, and Carolyn Tapie. The team was coached by Gerald R. Powell, who serves as the Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence, and Professor W. Jeremy Counseller.