TAHP Excels in Competitions Across the Country
From coast to coast, Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP) turned in strong performances at two separate regional rounds of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Competition.
Team members Mackenzie Brown, Jahmy Graham, Michelle Henderson and Christine Wood competed in Santa Monica during the second weekend in March, dominating in all five rounds of competition and finishing in first place. After beating UC Hastings, Cal Western and Trinity in the preliminary rounds, the team then defeated U.C. Berkeley in the semi-finals and the University of San Diego in the finals. This superb performance earned the team a spot in Nationals, which will be held in New Orleans in April.
Meanwhile, the team comprised of Bahareh Aghajani, Keira Cumberland, Matthew Kleintop and Benjamin Tragish performed extremely well in another AAJ regional round, which was held in North Carolina. The team missed making the semifinals by one point, but finished the competition solidly by earning fifth place. TAHP alumni Kevin Gres '12, Sheetal Jhala '04 and Brian Yasuzawa '06 coached the team that traveled to Raleigh.
For this competition, the teams argued a mock trial loosely based on the Jerry Sandusky scandal but with a twist. It was a civil suit against a fictitious university for negligent supervision and retention of a pedophile, the well-known coach of the baseball team. This scenario also involved the wrongful death of one of his alleged victims, who committed suicide as a result of the sexual abuse. The case also included allegations that the university knew about the abuse but failed to stop it.
Each team was comprised of four advocates, all of whom also played witnesses for their counterparts. Two advocates represented the plaintiff and two represented the defense. Competitors had to put on a full trial consisting of pre-trial matters, opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations, closing arguments and objections.
Alumni Doug Baek '08 and Kenneth Holdren '09 and fellow TAHP member J.B. Twomey coached the winning team in Santa Monica. "Months of preparation and the skilled guidance of Professors Esposito and Seki and our coaches gave us the edge we needed to succeed," said Jahmy Graham (pictured, with Michelle Henderson). "What also made a real difference was each advocate's unyielding desire to believe in the team and work hard to have the competition results reflect the reality of our team's strength and diversity."