WACO, Texas -
Chris Arnell and Marcus Fifer Headed to Nationals
Baylor Law's Chris Arnell and Marcus Fifer will compete in the national championship of the National Trial Competition (NTC) in Austin this April, after winning the Region 10 regional competition in Baton Rouge, LA in early February. The competition, co-sponsored by Texas Young Lawyers Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers, is the largest mock trial competition in the country. More than 300 teams from law schools across the country compete in 14 regional competitions, and the top two teams from each region compete at the NTC in April. Baylor Law has advanced at least one team to nationals in six of the last ten years, and has won the national championship at the NTC four times since the competition began in 1976.
Baylor Law's Stephani Cook, Matthew Hinojosa and Jordan Jarreau also represented Baylor Law at the regional competition, winning all three of their preliminary rounds, advancing to the finals, and falling just short of qualifying for the national competition. Daniel Pellegrin filled various roles on the team as well, and played a critical role in preparing both teams for competition. At the regional competition Baylor Law's two teams faced 13 different law schools from Region 10, which includes Texas and Louisiana, held at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University on February 1-3, 2018.
"It takes an incredible amount of work to prepare both sides of the case and woodshed witnesses before each trial, but the preparation is great practical training for those of us who want to be trial lawyers. I enjoy the competition and appreciate the opportunity to refine my trial skills against some of the best student advocates in the country," Stated Regional Champion Marcus Fifer. His teammate, Chris Arnell added, "One of the unique challenges of this competition is having to adapt to the witnesses provided by the tournament. We are only allowed to speak with our witnesses in the 15-minute window before the round starts. This is our only time to prepare our witnesses for trial; yet, no two rounds are the same. One of our witnesses could not recall basic facts during the direct examination. Then, in the very next round a witness was crass, confident and over-answered questions. Dealing with such varying styles of witnesses is challenging because it tests your ability to lead a witness through a direct examination, while also controlling the flow and tone of the presentation."
Not only is the NTC the largest mock trial competitions in the country, it is also one of the most challenging. Chris Arnell noted, "The judges will also test the attorney's ability to adapt. One judge explained to us that she made obviously wrong rulings just to see how we would respond."
Robert Little, Attorney with Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee, PLLC, and volunteer coach for Baylor Law's NTC teams for the past decade, stated, "These students practiced five or six days a week for the past two months, on top of being in Practice Court, and on top of taking finals. They worked incredibly hard, and all that hard work paid off. I could not be prouder of the effort they made in practice and at the competition, and the results from the competition just demonstrate how talented they are, and what great trial lawyers they will be in the future." He added, "Marcus, Chris, Stephani, Jordan, Matt and Daniel are great examples of the kind of trial lawyers that Baylor Law, the Practice Court program, and our mock trial program produce every year, and reflect the commitment that Baylor Law has to making advocacy a top priority."
At this year's regional competition, teams faced off over a wrongful death action filed by a widow who claimed her husband died, electrocuted, due to the negligence of the 'Armadillo Elevator Co.' a fictitious grain elevator operator. Complicating factors included which company owned the railroad tracks where the elevator was located and who was responsible for the power line that ultimately connected with a 10-foot brass pole the deceased was using for work.
For more information about the 2018 National Trial Competition, visit: http://www.tyla.org/tyla/index.cfm/resources/law-students1/trial-advocacy-competitions/national-trial-competition/
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