Tori Coates Is Baylor Law’s Fall 2019 'Mad Dog' Champion

January 14, 2020

Tori Coates is Baylor Law's Fall 2019 'Mad Dog' Champion'

Tori Coates, Baylor Law's Fall 2019 'Mad Dog' Champion with (L-R) Legal Writing Lecturer Greg White, Mad Dog Finalist Josh Dinsmore, Director of Advocacy Programs Robert Little, and Baylor Lawyer Andy McSwain

A Competition in Honor of Professor Matt 'Mad Dog' Dawson


Baylor Law student Tori Coates has been named the most recent Baylor Law 'Mad Dog,' after winning the Fall 2019 Mad Dog Mock Trial Competition. Fellow student Josh Dinsmore was the finalist.

Coates Makes a Point During the Final Round of the Fall 2019 Mad Dog Competition

A strong part of Baylor Law tradition, every Practice Court class competes in the Bob and Karen Wortham "Mad Dog" Practice Court Competition, a week-long contest that occurs at the beginning of the second quarter of the famed Practice Court program. Mad Dog is a one-on-one (no partners) advocacy competition in which the students are given a case file a mere 48 hours before the competition and then compete head-to-head in a single-elimination style tournament. This year's Fall Mad Dog competition was held Monday, December 2 through Thursday, December 5.

Tori Coates battled fellow student Josh Dinsmore for more than three hours on December 5th to win the coveted trophy and the title of the top Baylor Law student trial advocate. As winner of the Mad Dog competition, Coates will receive $3,000 and 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 a finalist, Dinsmore received $1,000. Semifinalists Maria McIntyre and Austin Dam each received $500.

“The competitive spirit of Baylor makes competitions like this a lot of fun. Everyone works so hard and every round was a competitive round. No competition is handed to you at Baylor Law,” stated Coates after being announced the Fall 2019 Mad Dog Champion, who added, “My competitors were brilliant, and I would be nervous to face any one of them in the courtroom.” After graduation, Coates plans to work for the law firm of Jackson Walker in Austin, Texas in their litigation practice group.

The Final Round

In the final round, Coates and Dinsmore tried a fictional case involving a wrongful death action filed by Jeanine Rankin against Paymore Specialty Insurance Company (“Paymore”) as a result of the death of her husband, Stephen Rankin. Mrs. Rankin asserted that her husband took his own life as a result of intentional infliction of emotional distress by Paymore in the handling of a claim asserted by the Rankins for the destruction of a commercial building owned by them and insured by Paymore. While Paymore eventually paid the policy amount to the Rankins, questions stemming from disclosures on the insurance application led Paymore to dispute the initial claim. During the dispute period, the Rankin’s business suffered, and Stephen Rankin took his own life.

The scoring judges for the final round were Robert Little, Director of Advocacy Programs and Baylor Law, local attorney Andy McSwain, JD ’84, and Greg White, Legal Writing Lecturer at Baylor Law.

The Honorable Bob and Karen Wortham have generously sponsored the Mad Dog intrascholastic competition at Baylor Law for several years. Judge Wortham serves as the District Attorney for Jefferson County and previously served as the judge of 58th District Court in Jefferson County from 2007 to 2014. He also 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.

"Judge Bob and Karen Wortham are wonderful friends of Baylor Law and their continued support of the Mad Dog competition, and the practical training opportunity it provides our students, is invaluable,” stated Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben.

Volunteer Judges, Fall 2019 Mad Dog Competition

Sune Agbuke

Jacqueline Altman

Mark Altman II

Maddie Beach

LT Beard

Travis Blake

Price Brannen

Mark Firmin

Jessi Freud

Jess Gambrell

Tara Gough Avants

Will Gray

Gavin Lane

Robert Little

Pablo Martinez

Lisa Marton

Amanda Milam

LorAnn Newman

Kristen Parker

Jeanine Rispoli

Tania Sethi

Mark Siegmund

Tatianna Struble

Amy Thomas

John Wiersgalla

Ben Yelverton

Stephen Yip

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PHONE: 254-710-6681

Established in 1857, Baylor University School of Law was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,600 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as one of the top 5 in the nation. Baylor Law is also ranked in the top 50 in the magazine’s 2019 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and in the top 15 "Best Law School Facilities" in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984. Learn more at

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at

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