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Posted March 25, 2009

Law School Team Wins NBLSA Mock Trial National Championship

Mock Trial
From left, Erin Crowgey, Stephen Anthony, Saira Karim and Jordan McKay

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Contact: Rob Seal

A Law School team won the National Black Law Students Association Mock Trial Competition last week in Irvine, Calif., and other students either won awards or earned positions in the organization’s national leadership.

The team of third-year law student Stephen Anthony and second-year law students Saira Karim, Erin Crowgey and Jordan McKay won NBLSA’s Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition.

“BLSA Mock Trial was one of the most enriching experiences here at law school,” Karim said. “Not only did I develop meaningful relationships with my teammates, but learning trial advocacy from experienced coaches and team members was a great learning experience. I would love to be a part of it again next year.”

First-year law student Melinda Hightower and third-year law student Kurt Davis were runners-up in the NBLSA International Negotiations Competition, and Karla Hardy was first runner-up for the NBLSA National Best Advocate Award in the mock trial competition.

“Participating in this year's National competition has been one of the highlights of my time at UVA Law,” said Hardy, who competed in a field of 78.

Last year, she was a member of a team that won the regional championship and advanced to nationals, but her team this year faced challenges, including replacing a member before the national finals.

“Despite the hurdles, we competed well at nationals,” she said. “My teammates Erva Cockfield, Kara Akins, Suzanne Libby and Bobbie King are all extremely talented trial advocates, and we have learned so much working together.”

Hightower, who will serve as the University of Virginia BLSA president next year, will also serve on the national BLSA board as vice-chair. 

The students from the winning mock trial team won the regional championship Feb. 19 in Philadelphia to advance to the finals, where Anthony praised his teammates’ performance.

“Throughout the competition, I saw their confidence grow, their comfort grow and the competitiveness grow — as a result, they carried us to the championship,” said Anthony, who was the only team member with mock trial experience. “I will remember this experience and this team for a long time!”

In the competition, the team is given a set of facts about a hypothetical case, and team members assume the role of prosecutors, witnesses or defense counsel.

Their case at the national finals was an expansion of the case from the regional finals, which involved charges filed after a fictitious hazing incident at a college.