Cumberland School of Law Announces Members of the National Trial Team

Posted: Wed, 09/12/2012 - 16:10

There have been 16 exceptional law students selected from the student body of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law to join the National Trial Team.  In the 2012–13 academic year, these members will continue the law school’s tradition in trial advocacy excellence.  Cumberland School of Law is currently recognized nationally by U.S. News as the No. four trial advocacy program. 

The new trial team members were selected on the evening of Monday, September 10, 2012, from the finale of the Herbert W. Peterson National Trial Team Competition. The Peterson Competition is a student-run intramural competition that is administered by a student Trial Advocacy Board. This board includes a student elected chief judge and a student elected competition director and associate director.

“The Peterson,” as the competition is commonly referred to, began at the start of the school year in late August 2012 with a total of 30 participants.  There were 52 judges and attorneys from across Alabama, including Judge Joseph Boohaker, Judge Paul Greene and Judge Michael Putnam, who came to the law school to offer their wisdom and guidance.  These judges and attorneys presided over the trial and scored the competitors in each round of the competition. 

The problem this year was a criminal case where Lone Star resident, Alex Moore, was on trial for the murder of his sister.  Each student competed in two separate rounds, one round for the prosecution and one round for the defense.  By the third round, 21 of the original 30 competitors advanced.  Then, each had to give a demanding five-minute opening statement in front of the six trial team coaches. 

“I feel like we are stacked, we really have a solid team,” said second-year law student Alex McFall, one of 16 selected for the team.  

I’m honored,” said third-year law student Cory Ricci, who made the trial team for the second consecutive year.  “I’m so thrilled just to have a case to try again.”  Ricci is referring to the Tournament of Champions, a trial competition that will take place this year in Chicago, IL.  Governed by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, the Tournament of Champions hosts the top 16 trial advocacy programs from law schools throughout the country, and Cumberland School of Law is one of these 16 schools.  Last year, Cumberland School of Law’s trial teams won not only the Tournament of Champions in New York City at St. John’s University but also the National Trial Advocacy Competition held in East Lansing, MI, at Michigan State University, and the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We definitely have the firepower. It’s just a matter of putting in the preparation,” Ricci stated. This year, Ricci hopes to repeat the success of last year.

The judges who presided over the competition were universal in their praise of the competitors “The students did very well.  At Cumberland, there is more of an emphasis on practical application.  I think it pays off well when they get out and begin to practice,” said the Honorable Joseph L. Boohaker, who presided over one of the rounds. 

The following 16 Peterson competitors now make up the current Cumberland School of Law National Trial Team:  Rebecca Hall, Patrick Hinchey, Melissa Isabel, Keith Knowlton, Rachel Martin, Alex McFall, Blake Milner, Jackson Neal, Benjamin Odendahl, Nick Rayburn, Jennifer Reynolds, Cory Ricci, Dain Stewart, Genevieve Turner, Chambers Waller and Carl Williams.

The team will be coached by Robin Beardsley Mark, W.M. Bains Fleming III, Marc Jaskolka, Michael V. Rasmussen, the Honorable James H. Roberts Jr., and Sarah L. Williams.  The competition was coordinated by Victoria Ebrahimi, director of the Peterson Competition, and Hannah Torbert, associate director of the Peterson Competition. Chambers Waller is the chief judge of the Trial Advocacy Board.

Picture Above
Pictured Front Left to Right:  Cory Ricci, Carl Williams, Benjamin Odendahl, Nick Rayburn, Blake Milner, Melissa Isabel, Jackson Neal, Rachel Martin, Jennifer Reynolds, Rebecca Hall, Alex McFall, Genevieve Turner, Chambers Waller, Dain Stewart, Keith Knowlton, and Patrick Hinchey.
Pictured Back Left to Right:  Robin Beardsley Mark, Bains Fleming, Marc Jaskolka, Sara Williams, Judge Jim Roberts, and Mike Rasmussen.