By Katie Jenkins 3L, TJSL National Trial Team Member
From March 26-29 the TJSL National Trial Team traveled to Houston, Texas for the annual South Texas Mock Trial Competition. The case was a medical malpractice damages case. One of the first of its kind, as this competition has never had a purely damages case. Further, this competition is especially unique because it includes a writing component. This year, the team had to write a brief regarding the cost of medical insurance. Kaitlin Shelby 2L, and Puneet Layal 2L, represented the plaintiffs while Thomas Gennaro 3L, and Katie Jenkins 3L, represented the defendant hospital.
The competition started off with three back-to-back preliminary rounds. Mr. Gennaro and Ms. Jenkins kicked off the competition in the morning round against a school from Alabama. Ms. Jenkins painted a picture with her opening while Mr. Gennaro gave a passionate closing. “Katie fired off objections like nobody's business and Thomas destroyed his witness on re-cross,” said Coach Lea Fields-Bernard.
In the afternoon, Ms. Shelby and Mr. Layal went against the University of Florida. Ms. Shelby took control of the courtroom and showed off impeccable advocacy skills with her opening and her flawless cross-examination of the defense expert. Coach Fields-Bernard had this to say about Mr. Layal’s closing “talk about owning the courtroom. The presiding judge said that Puneet was fabulous and exhibited incredible control.”
The next morning, the two competed again in the third round against St. John’s University. Ms. Shelby speaks of her time as an advocate, saying that “competing at the South Texas competition was an amazing experience to see this trial come to light after weeks of long practices to hone our craft.”
This is the fourth year of the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge, which is sponsored by the South Texas College of Law. TJSL competed against schools from all across the nation. TJSL advocates also had the pleasure of being judged by local attorneys and judges from Houston. Though the TJSL National Trial Team did not advance, the team learned invaluable skills throughout the entire process. “This is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Jenkins. “It was an honor to represent my school at this nation-wide competition. And it was so much fun to compete against schools from across the country.”
The competition committee also provided a BBQ dinner at a local piano bar where teams could network and mingle with each other the last night of the competition. Ms. Shelby sums up the experience by stating that “our team has been brought closer together with the experience and it was a blast to cheer one another on and see how our hard work paid off.”