Baylor Mock Trial Team Third In Nation

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(L to R) - Jim Wren, Kathy Serr, Ed Cloutman, Tom Jacob and James Hatchitt (not pictured, Blaire Knox)
April 15, 2009

Contact: Julie Carlson, Baylor Law School, (254) 710-6681

The Baylor Law School mock trial team tied for third place in the nation at the prestigious Student Trial Advocacy Competition, sponsored by the American Association for Justice. The contest, held April 2-5 in West Palm Beach, Fla., featured the 16 regional winners from law schools across the nation. This competition followed on the heels of the nation's other major competition sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers, in which Baylor's team won the national championship.

"I am extremely proud of our AAJ team," said team coach Jim Wren, associate professor of law. "Winning both national championships in the same spring would have been a shocking accomplishment, particularly considering that there is no overlap in students between our AAJ and ACTL teams."

"Without question, our AAJ team was highly motivated to bring Baylor a second national championship in the same spring. They were disappointed to miss the chance for history. But by any measure, it's been a great year for us," Wren added.

Baylor defeated teams from Stanford, Colorado, New Mexico and Suffolk, before losing in the semi-final round, 2-3, to the team from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law.

Baylor was represented by Ed Cloutman, Tom Jacob, Blaire Knox and James Hatchitt. Coaches were Wren and Kathy Serr, adjunct professor of law. During the tournament, teams tried a fictional civil case that centered on whether a hotel was negligent because a hotel guest was shot and killed in its parking lot.

"Tom Jacob is the consummate professional. He is smart (Baylor Law Review Editor-in-Chief), incredibly competitive and surgically lethal in his cross-examinations," Wren said. "Ed Cloutman is in Practice Court now and still has another year of law school left. We have him for the Tournament of Champions national competition this fall and for the national competitions next spring, along with all of these other students we had the opportunity to develop on our AAJ teams this spring."

The AAJ competition began with a staggering 248 squads from 147 law schools. The Baylor Mock Trial Team won both first and second place at the regional tournament on March 1. The two Baylor teams won their semi-final trials against the University of Texas and SMU, to close out the competition.

On March 28, a separate Baylor Law mock trial team was crowned national champion at the prestigious National Trial Competition, sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers. A Baylor Law team also won the regional ABA Client Counseling Tournament while another Baylor team made the round of 16 at the National Moot Court Competition in New York City early in 2009.

According to Wren, Baylor has traditionally worked at a disadvantage to other law schools with regard to competitions.

"Unlike Baylor, most other law schools concentrate their resources in the development of a handful of student competitors, who are sent to numerous mock trial competitions for a year or more before moving to an AAJ or NTC team. And many law schools field their single best team and send it to both (AAJ and NTC) competitions," he said. "Baylor of course has always been committed to putting every one of our students through Practice Court, not just a select few."

Only Jacob, who anchored the Baylor AAJ team, was already a Practice Court graduate. His teammate Cloutman is in Practice Court currently. Of the Baylor teams that competed in the AAJ regional competition, six of the eight were either pre-PC or in their first four weeks of PC.

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