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Law students ace mock trials

Jason D. Cox
Staff Writer

La Verne law students had their best showing in three years when the College of Law hosted the National Trial Team Competition last week.

Pepperdine University and the University of San Diego took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, and will move on to compete against 13 other regional competition winners.

And both teams from La Verne made it to the semifinals; the furthest ULV has made it in its three times competing against the rest of the Southwestern region.

“I wanted to have a completely seamless competition so that the students could try clean cases and know it was only about them,” Megan Chaney, professor of law, said.

Chaney was responsible for bringing the competition to the law school.

Last year, when complications arose with the school that was originally scheduled to host the competition, Chaney got the idea that the College of Law could and should host this competition.

“We wanted to host this nationwide competition to help prove that we can be a nationally reputable law school,” Chaney said.

As host, the College of Law coordinated all of the preparations for 24 teams representing 14 schools from throughout the Southwestern United States and Hawaii.

These preparations included all the logistics, such as arranging for judges to hear each trial, reserving courtrooms and recruiting volunteers to play witnesses.

The competition itself took place at the Rancho Cucamonga Courthouse, and used 13 courtrooms to run the trials.

The public was not only invited to watch as students faced off in a fictional double-murder/robbery trial, but also to volunteer to play witnesses in the courtroom drama.

The competition had great support from the local community.

Many of the judges who participated are sititing judges, and a few of them even presided over cases in their own courtrooms.

Security guards worked over-time and even the in-house snack bar, Café Justice, stayed open long past their usual hours to accommodate the competition’s participants.

“This is the first time the competition has been hosted in the Inland Empire,” Communi­cations-Special Events Coord­inator Cindy Gaytan said. “It’s a big deal.”

ULV senior sociology major Angela Chavez volunteered as a witness every day of the competition.

“It gave me a lot of experience just being here and getting to be a part of the competition,” Chavez said.

Chaney said that district attorney intern and law student, Teresa Lundquist, who competed in this year’s competition, had been recruiting people since last summer.

On Feb. 17, the competition began at 6 p.m. with 13 trials. Each trial had a judge, witnesses and two evaluators available to score the competing students.

The top two teams out of the 14 regional competition winners will compete in the National Competition in Houston, Texas, this April.

Jason D. Cox can be reached at jason.cox@laverne.edu.

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