By Kevin Bergt
February 16– 19 the Thomas Jefferson Mock Trial Team sent two teams to compete at the regional Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) national trial advocacy competition, one of the most prestigious mock trial competitions in the country. What made this year’s competition especially meaningful is that our law school hosted the competition for the first time.
Thursday night, law schools from all over California, Arizona and Utah arrived at the aptly named Hall of Justice downtown courthouse and litigated in the first round of the competition.
Bryanna Drescher, Vako Artinian and Kevin Bergt made up one team from Thomas Jefferson. Pratik Shah, Ian McMenemy and Matthew Katsionis comprised the other. In preparation for the competition, the mock trial teams practiced 4 nights a week from 6 – 10 p.m., with volunteers from the student body playing witness roles. The hours of practice paid off. Each team member performed admirably as they battled against the competition. By the end of the first round Friday, it was announced that Pratik Shah, Ian McMenemy and Matthew Katsionis scored enough points in the preliminary rounds to move on to the quarterfinals!
The quarterfinal rounds were held at Thomas Jefferson on Saturday morning. Pratik Shah and Ian McMenemy squared off against Loyola Law School from Los Angeles. Pratik Shah, dressed in his trademark suspenders, delivered the opening statement on the plaintiff side with all the skill of a veteran litigator. After a fiercely litigated trial on both sides, with all the courtroom drama of a Law and Order episode, Ian McMenemy gave a passionate closing argument to the judges. In the end, it was the other team from Loyola who won by just a few points. Loyola would go on to win the whole competition and advance to the national finals in Austin, Texas.
The Mock Trial team is especially appreciative of all the students from Thomas Jefferson who came downtown both Thursday and Friday evenings to support them. If any students are interested in Mock Trial or have questions about competing on the Mock Trial team, they are encouraged to attend an informational meeting scheduled to be held at a future date to be announced.