Baylor Law to Send Two Teams to National Trial Competition Finals

Feb. 13, 2009

Two Baylor Law School mock trial teams will compete in the National Trial Competition finals after finishing first and second at the regional competition in New Orleans. The Baylor teams of Joel Bailey/Eric Policastro and Kendall Cockrell/Tim Goines competed against teams from law schools in Texas and Louisiana, with the top two teams advancing to the national finals. The NTC is sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Baylor teams are coached by Waco attorney and adjunct professor Robert Little and Gerald Powell, the Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law. Law student Crystal Y'Barbo served as evidence coach.

"I think that this victory is a testament to Baylor Law School and, in particular, the practice court program," Bailey said. "Practice Court teaches us to adapt to the circumstances of each trial and be able to think on the fly. Both these skills are critical in a mock trial setting."

The regional tournament case was a fictional criminal case in which a professional bowler was on trial for being involved in dog fighting. The teams switched roles between prosecution and defense throughout the regional tournament depending on their assignment. Before the national finals, which will take place in late March in San Antonio, qualifying teams will receive a new case to ready for trial.

Arranged as a bracket tournament, the regional competitions ensure that two teams from the same school never compete against each other. In one bracket, the team of Bailey/Policastro defeated a team from St. Mary's School of Law in the semifinals and a team from South Texas School of Law in the finals. In the other bracket, the team of Cockrell/Goines defeated LSU in the finals and another team from South Texas in the finals.

"While Baylor has done this a number of times in the past, it has been since 2001-2002 that Baylor has qualified two teams for the national finals," Powell said. "These young trial lawyers are superb advocates. They are smart, talented, and work hard. They make us proud."

A number of other Baylor Law students also enjoyed success at recent national tournaments. At the National Moot Court Competition in New York City, the Baylor team of Ed Cloutman, Brian Garrett and John Hardage made it to the Elite Eight. Additionally, the team of Alex Bell and Andrew Petersen with Ronnie Turner as a witness made the quarterfinals of the George Mason Mock Trial Tournament in Virginia.

"Superb trial advocacy training is a hallmark of the Baylor Law School program," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "Once again, our students have demonstrated excellence in the courtroom as the result of the investment of our faculty efforts in the students' lives and learning."

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