Tennessee Law team dominates Phi Alpha Delta mock trial competition

For the second consecutive year, a University of Tennessee College of Law team has won the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International’s Mock Trial Competition.

During the competition on Feb. 22 and 23 in Arlington, Va., two UT College of Law teams, consisting of four students each, competed against 26 other teams. The winning team of second-year student Donovan Justice, and first year students Emily Carnder, Cole Hodge, and Natalie Loless, argued a fictional case in which a man faced six counts of second-degree murder and pled insanity as his defense. 

The UT College of Law’s winning team argued on behalf of the defendant in two of the four rounds of the competition and twice as the prosecution. Justice took away top honors for best advocate overall. 

Justice said the many hours of practice the team put in while preparing for the competition are what led to the group’s success. 

“Running trials against teammates who are smart, dedicated, and willing to call you out on your mistakes, makes everyone a better lawyer,” he said. But “no amount of lectures and reading can replace actually standing in front of a court and arguing your case.”

The Phi Alpha Delta mock trial competition helps students develop their trial advocacy skills and requires students to form persuasive arguments and demonstrate their abilities in problem solving, public speaking, and critical thinking. The competition is judged by volunteer lawyers, judges, and mock trial competition veterans.

The second team of UT College of Law competitors that participated in the competition included third-year student Maggy Greenway, second-year student Kristen Anderson, and first-year students Rachel Tom-Quinn, and Avery Morelock. Tom-Quinn placed third as best witness of the competition.

The teams were coached by Melissa DiRado of the Knox County Public Defender’s Office.