April 26, 2007 -- The University of Virginia Mock Trial team won the 23rd annual collegiate Mock Trial National Championship Tournament held April 13-15 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Virginia’s victory makes it only the fourth school in the history of Collegiate Mock Trial to win back-to-back national titles.
U.Va.’s second team finished tied for fifth place at the Championship Tournament, marking the first time in school history both teams have finished in the top 10 at Nationals.
At Nationals, U.Va. took first place honors in its division, beating out Stanford, Toledo, Columbia and UCLA in order to compete for the title. In the championship round, U.Va. defeated Harvard to become the 2007 National Champion. U.Va. also defeated Harvard in last year’s Championship Round, making this year’s final the first rematch in collegiate Mock Trial history.
The National Championship roster includes fourth-year students Mostafa Abdelkarim (Fairfax, Va.) and Daniel Young (Chesapeake, Va.); third-year student Jamar Walker (Melfa, Va.), second-year students Ryann Burke (Atlanta, Ga.) and Caroline Mayberger (Albany, N.Y.), and first-year students Lucy Partain (Dalton, Ga.) and Paul Wiley (Charlottesville, Va.). All seven members are students in the College of Arts and Sciences.
At this year’s tournament, Daniel Young took home an All-American Attorney award for his performance as a plaintiff attorney, while Mostafa Abdelkarim took home an All-American Witness award for his portrayal of a bar owner who witnessed the event in question. These awards are given to the top 10 attorneys and witnesses in each division.
The National Championship victory marked the conclusion of a watershed year for the U.Va. Mock Trial program. In the 2006-2007 season, U.Va. won four invitational tournaments, placed in the top ten 14 times at various competitions, and earned 25 individual awards. As a program, U.Va. had a cumulative win-loss-tie record of 99-14-2, with an overall win percentage of 87.7.
U.Va. Mock Trial’s head coach is second-year School of Law student and former Mock Trial competitor Ryan Faulconer (Colorado Springs, Colo.). The team’s assistant coaches include program alumni Samantha Bateman (U.Va. class of 2006) and Benjamin Sachs (U.Va. class of 2006), former Columbia University Mock Trial competitor Rakesh Kilaru (Columbia class of 2006), and University of Virginia law professor and former Mock Trial competitor Toby Heytens.
Virginia’s second team, which tied for fifth place at the Championship Tournament, includes third-year students Kevin Richards (North Salem, N.Y.) and Claire Wasserman (Miami, Fla.); second-year student Alex Boyajian (Boca Raton, Fla.); and first-year students Alison Burton (Manhattan, Kan.), Eric Green (Fairfax, Va.), Shikha Gupta (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Juliana Yee (Sacramento, Calif.). Kevin Richards is a student in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, while the remaining team members are currently students in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Collegiate Mock Trial is an interscholastic activity that has exploded in popularity on college campuses across the country. Coordinated by the American Mock Trial Association since its founding in 1985, collegiate Mock Trial provides students with an opportunity to learn first-hand about the work of trial attorneys, understand the judicial system, develop critical thinking and enhance communication skills. This year, over 500 teams from colleges and universities across the country registered to compete in collegiate Mock Trial.
Tournaments consist of trials between plaintiff and defense teams. This year’s case, Jeffries v. Polk County Police Department, involved the parents of a child in a coma suing a police department for the use of excessive force against their son. In competition, students put on a trial from start to finish, delivering opening statements and closing arguments, presenting witnesses, entering exhibits, conducting direct and cross examinations, and arguing objections using the Federal Rules of Evidence.
U.Va.’s victory at the National Championship Tournament means that it will retain its position as the overall No.1 team in the official AMTA rankings, which are based on a program's cumulative performance over the past three years. In order to qualify for the National Championship Tournament, a team must place first, second or third at one of several AMTA-sponsored regional tournaments across the country. The 64 teams that earn a bid to the National Championship are then divided into two divisions. After four rounds of competition, the top teams from each division go head-to-head in a National Championship round.
U.Va. won the Capital City Regional Tournament in February, earning a bid to compete at this year’s National Championship.