June 18, 2012
Baylor Law student David Shaw defeated fellow law student Matt Smith at the intrascholastic Bob and Karen Wortham Mini-Trial Competition and, in doing so, became Baylor Law School's newest Top Gun. With the win, Shaw took home $3,000 and the "Mad Dog," an 18-inch bronze statuette of Matt "Mad Dog" Dawson, the legendary Baylor Law professor who started the tradition of mini-trial competitions during his tenure as director of Baylor Law's Practice Court Program. As runner up, Smith received $1,000.
"My class is filled with brilliant, skilled advocates. There is no such thing as an easy trial against a Baylor Lawyer. My two wonderful kids gave me big hugs after each exhausting round. They think the Mad Dog trophy is daddy's new action figure," Shaw said.
In the finals, Shaw and Smith tried a fictional case involving a woman who sued a local bar owner after her son was killed in a robbery of the bar. The robbery was planned by one of the bar's employees. Shaw represented the defendant. Judges for the finals were Noley Bice, retired general counsel for Baylor University, and Rod Squires of the Waco firm of Beard, Kultgen, Brophy, Bostwick, Dickson, and Squires. The Honorable Jan Patterson, who sat on the State of Texas Third Court of Appeals for 12 years, served as presiding judge.
"Representing the defendant is more fun because you come to trial with a game plan but may change tacks entirely mid-trial if the plaintiff gives you an opening you can attack," Shaw said.
"It was a difficult case for both sides, but I really enjoyed representing the mother because she was a very sympathetic client," Smith said. "Everyone on the jury could relate to or at least understand the mother's grief, which allowed me to appeal to the emotions and sense of right and wrong of the jurors."
Shaw and Smith received the problem a scant 48 hours before the finals. The first three rounds were based on a car wreck/negligence case.
Shaw received a bachelor's degree in religion and a master of divinity degree from Abilene Christian University. He will not graduate from Baylor Law School until February 2013.
Smith will graduate in July and will join the firm of Beard, Kultgen, Brophy, Bostwick, Dickson, and Squires. He majored in history at the University of Texas.
The Honorable Bob and Karen Wortham sponsor the intrascholastic competition. Wortham, now judge of 58th District Court in Jefferson County, served 12 years as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas before becoming a partner in the Reaud, Morgan and Quinn Law Firm. He began his career as a Jefferson County assistant district attorney and, at age 31, was appointed to serve an unexpired term as judge of 60th District Court - the youngest district judge in the state. In 1993, he received the Department of Justice Award for Outstanding Service. The couple's son, Baylor, also is an alumnus of the school and, following in his father's footsteps, works at the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.