By Andrew Cohen
A four-student team from the Law Students of African Descent, Berkeley Law’s chapter of the National Black Law Students’ Association, recently won the Western Region Championship of the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition in Las Vegas.
By going undefeated in all four of their three-hour trials, Mellori Lumpkin ’12, Keydon Levy ’11, Allina Hightower ’13, and Jerome Price ’11 advanced to the national finals in Houston March 9–13. Teams from 18 law schools—the top three finishers from each of the six regions—will compete at nationals.
The Thurgood Marshall Competition was created in 2002 to help future lawyers develop strong courtroom skills as they prepare for various components of a trial. Participants are called upon to implement rules of evidence, criminal procedure, and civil procedure, and to demonstrate skills in research, writing, analysis, and advocacy.
“Any aspiring trial lawyer welcomes the opportunity to compete with the best and to showcase his or her advocacy skills,” Lumpkin said. “Our team prepared rigorously for months leading up to the competition, and now the work begins for Houston.”
The Western Region competition featured a criminal case—loosely based on events that occurred in Haiti last year—involving a defendant charged with kidnapping, sex trafficking, and selling children in the U.S. from a foreign island devastated by an earthquake. Each team consisted of two prosecution attorneys and two defense attorneys.
Berkeley Law’s team defeated both of its opponents during the preliminary rounds on the first day. Lumpkin, Levy, Hightower, and Price then won the semifinal and final rounds to become the region’s only team to emerge undefeated.
“We had a very rigorous practice schedule,” said Lumpkin. “We worked on evidentiary foundations, performing and polishing direct and cross examinations, and practicing opening statements and closing arguments. We also had several practice sessions dedicated primarily to motions, as motions in limine were a graded portion of the competition.”
The team will be recognized during Boalt Black Alumni Weekend on Friday, April 8. For more information about this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.