Participants in the Don Turner Moot Court Competition finished their arguments and the winner, third-year Alicia LeDuc, was chosen on Nov. 10. Lauren Barnes and Stacey Gibbons, also third-years, were the runners up.
The Don Turner contest was four nights long, with 15 teams of two competing. Cindy Davis, president of the Moot Court Board, said LeDuc’s partner had to drop out at the last minute, so she was given the option to compete alone or find a replacement. She continued on her own, although she said it was a challenge.
"Winning the competition was unexpected, and I didn't think I would win going into it," LeDuc said. "I wasn't sure how my individual prep would compare against the two-person teams. That said, after my first defense-side win, I felt confident and carried that with me through the end of the competition."
The contest was a mock criminal trial in which the defendant was charged with manslaughter. The case details were similar to the facts surrounding the death of Michael Jackson and the charges filed against his doctor, Davis said. LeDuc said the competition was scored by actual practicing judges or local trial attorneys, so they gave participants insightful feedback on what would work or not work in an actual courtroom.
“Each team was scored on their courtroom demeanor, knowledge of evidence rules, questioning of witnesses, ability to object, and other factors,” Davis said. “Alicia won the competition by having the highest score during the final round.”
Teams conducted opening statements, questioned and cross-examined two witnesses, and gave a closing argument. Davis said participants could also file motions at the beginning of the trial, similar to how an actual trial would work. LeDuc said competing was an opportunity to apply skills learned in the Civil Trial Practice class.
"Ultimately, I think having taken that class is what gave me an edge in the competition," LeDuc said. "Experiential learning is the most valuable thing law students can get, especially their 3L year."
As the winner of Don Turner Competition, LeDuc has the option to participate in the regional contest, with the potential of moving on to the National Trial Competition organized by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, in March.
About Moot Court Board
Willamette University College of Law Moot Court Board promotes the art of appellate and trial advocacy by sponsoring various competitions and providing educational seminars. Moot Court Board is committed to helping Willamette Law students improve their skills as advocates in a competitive environment.
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.