Second-year students Katie Sanders (left) and Elana Samuels won the honor of best team at the 2019 Jenkins Trial Competition.

Law students argue cases before Tennessee judges in College competitions

Second-year law students Katie Sanders and Elana Samuels, and first-year student Cole Hodge earned wins at the Jenkins Trial and Adocacy Idol competitions on March 28 at the College of Law.

The Jenkins Trial Competition, sponsored by the Moot Court executive board and organized this year by third-year student Andrew Schrack, is open to members of the second- and third-year classes who participate in a mock trial as advocates.

Successful students advanced through two rounds arguing the case of Taylor Ferguson, charged with violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.  

In the final round before District Judge Thomas Lee Robinson Parker of the Western District of Tennessee, Samuels and Sanders argued successfully to receive the award for the best team, while third-year student Maggy Greenway and second-year student Donovan Justice took second-best team honors. Justice was named best advocate of the final round while Ariane Sowa was named best witness.

Also on March 28, the First-Year Advocacy Competition, or Advocacy Idol, was offered for first-year law students mentored by second- and third-year advocacy students. The event, coordinated by Moot Court executive board members Jamarcus Bradford and Erika Ivey, allowed competitors to present opening statements to Tennessee trial judges. The judges represent Tennessee’s First, Second, Third, Fifth, and Eighth Judicial Districts.

While Hodge was named the 2019 UT College of Law Advocacy Idol, Natalie Loless and Kayla Rask were named first- and second-runners up. The six finalists included Joshua Anderson, Ri’charda Anderson, and Rachel Tom-Quinn.

In all, more than 50 students took part in the week of activities at the College of Law.

Moot Court faculty advisor Penny White said the competition provides opportunities for participants to gain skills that support what they’re learning in the classroom.

“Each participant receives feedback from several members of the bench and bar, and the willingness of lawyers and judges to help with the competition is gratifying,” White said. The judges experienced “what we at the College experience every day: the amazing talent and potential of our students.”