Trial Team Wins Prestigious National Institute of Trial Advocacy 2013 Tournament of Champions

Congratulations to the The Trial Competition Team for winning first place at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy 2013 Tournament of Champions (TOC) held in Birmingham, Alabama. The team of Stanley Thompson, Pallavi Garg, Katherine Coleman and Cort VanOstran were coached by alumni, Judge David C.Mason and attorney Mark Rudder. The TOC—a tournament between the top 16 law school trial advocacy programs based on their three-year record in the two major national open trial competitions—was held over six trials from October 30 through November 3.

"The City of Birmingham was also the setting for the case tried by the students. The competition case was based on the 1962 bombings of African American churches in Birmingham by the Ku Klux Klan. The case involved the prosecution of one of the bombers of the "15th Street" Baptist Church. Some of the actual evidence, including photos and audiotape, was used in the trials. The students alternated between prosecution and defense ultimately winning on the defense in the championship round. John C. Robbins, the lead defense counsel in the actual case who served as one of the competition judges, said that Thompson "gave a better closing for the defendant" than he did in the actual trial. The Trial Competition Team moved on to the National Civil Trial Competition in Los Angeles, where third-year students James Miao, Erica Wurst, Elad Gross, and Emily Ottenson  finished in the top half of the competition. This competition was between the top sixteen law school trial teams based on a five-year history. 

The Trial Team is among the most intensive lawyering skills teams, offering opportunities for multiple regional and national competitions throughout the year. Washington University law students historically have been national champions  in the National Trial Competition twice, and national finalists, semifinalists, or quarterfinalists more than a dozen times. In addition to this year’s win, The Trial Team also has placed second in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy Tournament of  Champions and second in the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Competition. In addition, it has been Regional Champions and National Quarterfinalists in the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) Competition and has won the Missouri Attorney General’s Cup three times during the four years the competition has been held.