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TJSL National Mock Trial Team Wins TYLA Regional Competition

February 19, 2013

Mock Trial TYLA
Mock Trial TYLA

For the first time in school history, the TJSL National Trial Team won the 2013 regional competition of Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) in Tucson, Arizona this past weekend.  Coached by Professors Lilys McCoy and Lea Fields-Bernard, teammates Robert Sagerian 3L, Jay B Campbell 2L and Michael Fabinski 3L will compete in the national round of TYLA April 3-7, 2013 in San Antonio, TX.

After defeating Western State, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, and Pepperdine again in a second bout, Sagerian, Campbell and Fabinski were crowned champions of Region 14.

The TYLA regional competition included 28 teams from Southern California, Arizona, and Hawaii. The TJSL team competed in five trials against Western State, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount over the course of four days before being crowned Regional Champions. The TJSL team never lost a round and received the highest point total of all the teams.

The regional problem was a fictitious case titled, State of Lone Star v. John Quincy Drath. The State charged Mr. Drath with one count of murder for the death of Steppen Walker.  The State intended to prove that John Drath killed Steppen Walker out of anger after discovering that Mr. Walker, 22, was involved in sexual relationship with Mr. Drath’s 17-year-old daughter, Sally Drath.  Mr. Drath asserted the affirmative defense of insanity after he awoke in a jail cell eight days after Mr. Walker was killed, having no recollection of the previous eight days.

“This is a remarkable achievement for our team and our law school,” said Robert Sagerian, TJSL’s Team Captain.  “There has been so much support from the student body, the administration and members of the San Diego legal community leading up to this competition.  For that, I would like to thank everyone that was part of the preparation process because your assistance was instrumental to our success.”

“Thank you to my coaches and teammates who showed up and put in the work every single day,” said Michael Fabinski.  “I hope this is only the beginning of something special for this school’s team.”

“TYLA was a great experience,” said Jay B Campbell. “The regional competition had some great schools including, Pepperdine, Loyola, UCLA, USD and Cal Western, but we dug in and pulled through. Our victory at TYLA regionals is a testament to the hard work that everyone on our team put in, both competitors and non competitors alike. Our performance at TYLA was much more than a victory for the three of us or for the mock trial team. It was a victory for the TJSL student body, faculty and administration. Also, a big thank you to all the students who came in and volunteered to play witnesses during our practices. We hope to ride this momentum all the way to San Antonio for the National Competition!”

“Kudos to my Co-coach Professor Lea Fields-Bernard and competitors ‘Jay B’ Campbell, Michael Fabinski and Robert Sagerian,” said Professor Lilys McCoy. “It was an amazing experience, and the three student competitors represented TJSL in a way that should make all of us feel exceedingly proud.  As we kept advancing, we continued to get word that the competition coordinators and the other coaches were impressed with the TJSL Team. When we won in the final round, everyone seemed genuinely happy for our Team and our school.”

“Serving as a coach for the mock trial team has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career,” said Professor Lea Fields-Bernard.  “We were a newbie team (coaches included) when we prepared for our very first competition last fall.  It has been so exciting to watch the team members dramatically improve their trial skills since that time. The determination, dedication and character they have demonstrated, are traits that will enable them to succeed long after they graduate from law school.”

TJSL sent two teams to the TYLA competition.  The other team was staffed by Alonso Zavalasoto 2L, David Askander 3L and Michael Klitzke 2L. They also did well, only just missing the chance to advance. The entire 2012-2013 team contributed to the victory through tireless work over many practices.

The competition also had powerful personal meaning for Professor McCoy – it was a triumphant homecoming for her.

“The finals were held in the mock trial courtroom at the University of Arizona where I studied trial practice as a 3L,” said Professor McCoy.

“It was truly moving to watch them take the Region 14 Title in the very room where I first realized I might have the ability try cases.”

About the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s National Trial Competition

The National Trial Competition was established in 1975 to encourage and strengthen students’ advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with members of the bench and bar. The program is designed to expose law students to the nature of trial practice and to serve as a supplement to their education. It is the Texas Young Lawyers Association intent to provide a meaningful contribution to the development of future trial lawyers. The top two winners of the 14 regional competitions will compete in the National Competition April 3-7, 2013 in San Antonio, TX.