TAHP Team Wins National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition
Two Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) teams from Southwestern performed exceptionally well at the California Association of Criminal Justice's (CACJ) National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition in early November. The team of Anet Badali, Enrique Rodriguez, Ashley Fetyko Smolic and J.B. Twomey won the competition while the team of Katherine Bruce, Jahmy Graham, Nestor Lopez and Michael Morse received one of four Honorable Mentions for their outstanding advocacy skills.
Southwestern's winning team defeated Pepperdine University in the semifinals and McGeorge Law School in the final round. In addition, Badali was also named Best Advocate, receiving the George W. Porter Award, which was established to commemorate his life work, as one of CACJ's founding members, to celebrate his vision of an organized criminal defense voice. The team was coached by alumni Douglas Baek '08, Torsten Bassell '06 and Kenneth Holdren '09.
"Receiving the Best Advocate award was such an incredibly proud moment," Badali said. "I felt humbled to be acknowledged among such outstanding advocates from all across the nation. Winning the National Championship as well as this award was a proud moment not only for our team, but for the entire Trial Advocacy Honors Program. It was another testament of how successful Southwestern's TAHP is in preparing advocates for every aspect of competition."
Twenty-four participating teams represented law schools across the nation at the San Francisco competition. Competing law schools included Brooklyn Law School, California Western School of Law, Chapman University School of Law, Charlotte School of Law, Florida State University College of Law, U.C. Hastings College of the Law and Santa Clara University School of Law. They had to prosecute and defend a criminal case that involved charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Rodriguez, who argued with Badali for the defense, said the team's win was especially sweet because "it was a true honor to be considered the best team among a group of very talented advocates."
Twomey, who also serves as the Chair of TAHP's Board of Governors, explained that the teams received the case file in mid-September. It contained a statement of the case, statements of witnesses, medical records, exhibits, the governing law and the competition rules. Southwestern's team advocates wrote and prepared all their trial materials. Both teams practiced three times a week, with some sessions lasting more than five hours.
"We really came together as a team," Twomey said. "We encouraged each other continuously, challenged each other intellectually and prepared thoroughly. It was such a great feeling to win the CACJ National Championship."