Carson Runge Named Baylor Law's Newest Top Gun

Dec. 14, 2009
News Photo 4831Carson Runge, left, winner of the 2009 Top Gun competition at Baylor Law School with runner-up Andrew Petersen

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Carson Runge, a third-year law student from Grand Prairie, was named the Baylor Law School's latest Top Gun on Monday, Dec. 7. Runge won the intrascholastic Bob and Karen Wortham mini-trial competition and took home 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.

Runge battled Andrew Petersen for three hours to win the coveted trophy and the title of the top Baylor Law student trial advocate. As winner of the Wortham competition, Runge will receive $3,000. As runner up, Petersen received $1,000.

"We are always amazed at the skill of our students during this competition, not just in the finals but also in the preliminary rounds," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "Their proficiency in the courtroom is a wonderful reflection on our renowned advocacy program. Both Carson and Andrew will be formidable in their careers as trial lawyers. I congratulate them both."

"After every trial, you always look back at things you said and feel you shouldn't have said, and things you didn't say, and probably should have. Overall, I think both Andrew and I tried a good case," Runge said.

Participants in the preliminary rounds and semifinals tried a medical malpractice case, but the finalists learned they must prepare for an entire new trial in the finals.

"I found out I was competing in the finals on Friday night, after the semi-final round. Professor (Gerald) Powell sent us a new case Friday night, and Andrew and I spent our weekend in the courtrooms trying to put together a case in 48 hours," Runge said.

In the finals, Runge and Petersen tried a fictional civil case in which a woman had brought suit against an insurance company because the company had denied paying life insurance after the death of her husband. The insurance company claimed its customer had committed suicide, which the plaintiff denied. Runge represented the plaintiff.

"The unique thing about the Top Gun Competition is that you are trying cases against your friends," Runge said. "You know their strengths, their weaknesses and their tricks. But, they also know yours. That combination makes for a fun trial. Also, because you're trying cases against your friends, you're not looking to draw as much blood as you might be in other mock trial competitions."

Judges for the competition were Jim Wren, assistant professor and Practice Court I instructor; Noley R. Bice Jr., adjunct professor of law and retired General Counsel for Baylor; and James Hatchitt, runner-up in the summer 2009 competition and presiding judge for the case.

Runge received his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University. While at Baylor Law School, he has competed in the San Diego National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition, ABA Labor Law Mock Trial Competition, AAJ National Mock Trial Competition and the NTAC National Mock Trial Competition. He will graduate in May 2010.

Many might remember that Runge is no stranger to winning major awards. He and fellow law student Stuart White took home top prize from the World Hog Wrestling Championship in 2008.

"I think this trophy means more to Carson than that big old belt buckle he won as hog wrestling champion and that he likes to flaunt around," Toben said. "Seriously, when I think that at spring break last March Carson was facing major surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his rib, I am filled with admiration for him. He was back at school the Monday when classes returned, and while he moved a bit slower, he didn't slow down at all with his legal education. He is such a great example to our students."

Petersen hails from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and received his undergraduate degree from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. He has been a member of the Lone Star Mock Trial team, the George Mason National Criminal Law Mock Trial Team and the Texas Young Lawyers Association Moot Court team. He also will graduate in May 2010.

Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben expressed his appreciation to the Honorable Bob and Karen Wortham for sponsoring the intrascholastic competition. Wortham, who was elected district judge in November 2006, worked as an attorney with the Beaumont law firm of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn L.L.P. He previously served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas; sat as a State District Judge; and worked at the District Attorney's Office, Jefferson County. 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 District Attorney's Office in Jefferson County.

See digital footage of the competition on the Baylor Law School Facebook page: click here to see Carson Runge and here to see Andrew Petersen

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

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