Ninth Annual Mock Trial Competition hosted in Judge Williams Courtroom

The University of South Carolina School of Law congratulates third-year law students Creasie Parrott and second-year student Kyle Watson for winning the ninth annual Judge J. Lyles Glenn Jr. and Terrell L. Glenn Sr. Mock Trial Competition on Sept. 22. The team was presented with the D. Reece Williams III Award, given by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

The case, The State of South Carolina v. Sydney Carter, involved an allegation of murder. Parrott and Watson argued the defense of Carter against competitors second-year students Megan Rudd and Olivia Hassler. The final round of the competition was presided over by the Honorable Joseph F. Anderson Jr., a Senior U.S. District Judge for the District of South Carolina.

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Mock Trial wins TYLA Regionals for third straight year

(l to r) Matt Abee, Colin Spangler, Creasie Parrott and Brett Bayne.

Congratulations to the University of South Carolina School of Law Mock Trial team, who—for the third time in a row—won the regional round of the Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition on Feb. 11, 2017. 

The team included third-year student Colin Spangler and second-year student Creasie Parrott, along with coaches Brett Bayne,  Matt Abee, and Kinli Abee. They will be returning to the national competition in Fort Worth in March.

Two stars shine at Lone Star Classic Mock Trial Competition

(l to r) Jordan Cox, Lauren Hobbis, Jamie Rutkoski and Morgan Yarborough.

(l to r) Jordan Cox, Lauren Hobbis, Jamie Rutkoski and Morgan Yarborough.

There was no time off for members of the University of South Carolina School of Law mock trial team during the fall break, as they traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in the 2016 Lone Star Classic competition. During the Oct. 13-15 invitational contest, the team advanced to the semi-finals and also won two individual awards, adding to their ever-growing trophy case.

The competition hosted 16 different ABA-accredited law schools from across the country. The University of South Carolina School of Law ranked #2 among all in the preliminary round and advanced to the semi-final round.

The team was comprised of third-year students Jordan Cox, Lauren Hobbis, and Jamie Rutkoski, and second-year student Morgan Yarborough. Coaches included Brett Bayne, ’11, who also teaches trial advocacy at the law school, and Monica Bracey, ’15.

Hobbis and Rutkoski argued for the defense in the semi-final round against defending-champions from University of Maryland. In the preliminary rounds, Hobbis took home the award for Best Opening Statements, and Rutkoski received the award for Best Closing Argument.

The team seeks the crown in the “queen city” as they travel to Charlotte the weekend of Oct. 21 for their next competition.

2L Colin Spangler invited to exclusive “Top Gun” Mock Trial Competition

Second-year students Colin Spangler and Clair Hollingsworth celebrate their victory at the 2016 TYLA regional competition.

Second-year students Colin Spangler and Clair Hollingsworth celebrate their victory at the 2016 TYLA regional competition.

For the second time in school history, a University of South Carolina School of Law student secured an invite to participate in the exclusive “Top Gun” Mock Trial Competition, hosted by the Baylor University School of Law.

Based on his exceptional performance and ultimate wins at the Carolinas Invitational Mock Trial Tournament in the Fall and the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) regional competition in the Spring, second-year student Colin Spangler will compete against 15 other hand-selected students over the five-day competition in June. The only other University of South Carolina law student to receive an invitation was Brett Bayne, current mock trial coach and adjunct professor.

“I’ve been knocking down Baylor’s door every year pitching our trial advocacy program, and Colin’s results can’t be ignored,” said Bayne. “In over a dozen trials, he had every judge rate him as the top student attorney—that’s unheard of.”

Unlike other mock trial competitions, participants do not receive the case file until they arrive in Waco, a mere 24 hours before the first round of trials begin. Preparation includes reviewing depositions, records, and photographs, and taking a trip to the actual places where events in the case supposedly occurred. Shortly before each round, competitors are assigned a witness or witnesses who may be used at their discretion during the round. The jurors for each round are distinguished trial lawyers and judges. Spangler will compete against representatives from Yale, Temple, NYU, and University of California at Berkeley, among others.

“I first heard of this competition back when I was competing in mock trial at the undergraduate level. It was the premiere mock trial competition in the nation, and I made it my goal to one day be invited to compete. I am excited and honored to represent USC at the national level,” said Spangler. “The success I have seen this past year, including the invite to Top Gun, would not be possible without the extraordinary help I received along the way. This past year I had the pleasure of working  extensively with Monica Bracey, Kinli and Matt Abee, and Brett. Without their help and constant support, competing at Top Gun would still be just a dream. 

“I would be remiss if I failed to mention the other students who have been there every step of the way.  Clair Hollingsworth, my mock trial partner and fellow 2L, was responsible for much of the success our team saw at the TYLA regional and national competition. Although Top

Gun allows for only a single attorney to compete, I will not forget that without her, this opportunity and the success we achieved this past year would not be possible.” 

UofSC School of Law Mock Trial Team Advances to National Competition

The University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball plays in the Sweet Sixteen this Friday, but it is not the only UofSC team currently in the running for a national championship. On March 30, the USC School of Law Mock Trial team will compete at the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) National Trial Competition in Dallas for the second year in a row.

The team advanced to the national round after racking up yet another victory last month at the TYLA Regional Mock Trial. To make the win sweeter, USC also hosted the tournament for the first time.

Second-year students Colin Spangler and Clair Hollingsworth celebrate their victory at the 2016 TYLA regional competition.

Second-year students Colin Spangler and Clair Hollingsworth celebrate their victory at the 2016 TYLA regional competition.

The competition took place at the Lexington County Courthouse with 20 teams from 11 different schools, including Emory, University of Georgia, Wake Forest, and University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

The USC School of Law teams entered the final round of the regionals ranked 1 and 2, respectively. Colin Spangler and Clair Hollingsworth won every single ballot—17 total, which is a rare feat—then defeated Charleston Law to advance to the national tournament. In addition, Spangler won Best Overall Advocate.

“I am extremely proud of how Clair and I competed this past weekend. We both put in countless hours of work in preparing for the regional competition, and it was great to see it pay off,” Spangler says. “It also wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our coaches, Brett Bayne and Matt and Kinli Abee. They were there every step of the way and will be instrumental as we prepare for the national competition.”

The second team, which included Alexa Kluska and LeAnna McMenamin, lost to Wake Forest University School of Law by only one ballot, but still finished as finalists.

Coach Brett Bayne says he is extremely proud of his team. “They worked their hearts out, and it was a real treat not only to see their dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm put to the test, but to see it pay off.”

This victory marks the fourth competition win in 17 months, along with its second finish as finalist.  The first came in the William Daniel Mock Trial Competition.

Next week, the national competition will feature 28 law schools from around the country, including Harvard Law, Stanford Law School, and Yale Law School. Although the competition is steep, Bayne is confident in his team’s abilities and accomplishments.

“Our team has a level of dedication that is unique to our law school, and I am truly looking forward to seeing it showcased in Dallas.”

 

UofSC School of Law mock trial team to host regional tournament

(Left to right) Colin Spangler, Enoch Hicks, Brett Bayne (coach), Monica Bracey (alumni coach), Amanda Stearns, and Jacob Godwin.

Carolinas Invitational victory 2015. (Left to right) Colin Spangler, Enoch Hicks, Brett Bayne (coach), Monica Bracey (alumni coach), Amanda Stearns, and Jacob Godwin.

On February 19-21, the University of South Carolina School of Law will not only host a regional round of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) National Trial Competition, it will also be defending its title. The team took first place in 2015—one of three tournament wins in less than a calendar year.

“We won back-to-back victories at the Carolinas Invitational in 2014 and 2015, and we’re hoping to repeat here as well,” said coach Brett Bayne. “To capture our fourth win while on our home turf would just be wonderful.”

Bayne said hosting the event is an honor and a boon to both the School of Law and the law community. “We were excited to be chosen. It means a lot for the mock trial program because it allows local attorneys and judges be involved in this competition. For the students, it’s a great opportunity to show off their skills with the very people they will soon be working alongside.”

But it’s not just local lawyers who are getting involved. “I’ve been really surprised by the outpouring of support from attorneys outside of the Midlands who are going to be traveling in to judge. We have folks from Georgia, DC, and North Carolina coming in to volunteer their time.”

That said, not all slots are filled, and Bayne encourages anyone interested in participating to contact him. “Right now, we are recruiting both local attorneys to judge and law students and undergraduates to be witnesses. There are many ways for people within the legal community to be involved.”

This year’s competition will be held at the Lexington County Courthouse, but Bayne is already working to host the tournament at the new law school. “Our new building will have four working courtrooms, plus first class amenities that really reflect the high caliber of our school. It will be ideal for when the competition returns to Columbia, possibly as early as 2018.”

But for now, Bayne is focused on making this event—the first of the semester—a success and getting another win under the team’s belt before heading off to other tournaments, including in Tallahassee, Raleigh, and Houston. And quite possibly a second trip to the TYLA nationals.

 

Interested in participating in the TYLA Mock Trial Regional Competition? Contact Brett Bayne at brett.bayne@mgclaw.com.

 

Law alumna Amanda Stearns brings national mock trial competition–and victories–to UofSC

Amanda Stearns (far right) led the undergraduate UofSC Mock Trial team to victory in November 2015.

On February 6-7, the University of South Carolina undergraduate mock trial team will host the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) regional competition, thanks in large part to the efforts of their coach, Amanda Stearns, who is also an alumna of the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Stearns said that mock trial has been a big part of her life since college, and through her involvement over the years, she has built a strong network of connections, including AMTA members who encouraged her to submit a proposal to host the competition.

“This is the first time USC has had this opportunity,” Stearns said. “The growth, success, and leadership of the team all contributed to USC earning the privilege to host such a prestigious event.”

Twenty-six teams from universities across the southeast will compete, including teams from Duke, Emory, and Furman, among others. Over the course of two days and four rounds, only six teams will advance, making USC an integral part of this mock trial competition.

Stearns, who graduated in December 2015 from the School of Law, started coaching the undergraduate team in 2013 during her second year as a law student.

Since that time, the mock trial team has enjoyed steady victories under her leadership, most recently besting 50 other teams to win the annual Mid-South Invitational Mock Trial Tournament in November 2015.

Stearns credits her coursework at the School of Law with helping her coach the team to a landslide victory at the tournament. 

“As we got deeper into developing our arguments, I remembered a discussion about chain of custody from my criminal law class with Judge Few, and I realized this was missing from the team’s case. We included that at the competition, and it ended up being crucial to our win. It was so important.”

As a law student, Stearns not only coached the undergraduate team, but was also involved with the law school team, helping them win the 2015 Carolinas Invitational Mock Trial competition in October 2015. She also stays involved with middle and high school teams through her work at the South Carolina Bar.

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School of Law mock trial team: (From left to right) Colin Spangler, Enoch Hicks, coach Brett Bayne, Amanda Stearns, and Jacob Godwin.

Even though she has graduated, Stearns is still just as active at all levels. She remains coach of the undergraduate team, preparing them for this weekend’s AMTA competition. She is also assisting the law school’s coach, Brett Bayne, get ready to host the Texas Young Lawyers Association regional competition, held on Feb. 19-21.

Somewhere in there, Stearns finds time to study for the South Carolina Bar Exam, which she will take in late February.

“I will be celebrating the end of my bar exam by traveling the next day to Charleston and Myrtle Beach to prepare and coordinate the high school mock trial competitions, and then I’ll go back to writing this year’s middle school mock trial case,” she said.

Where does her passion and drive for mock trial come from? 

“In college, mock trial really changed my life in so many positive ways, helping me become a stronger oral advocate and confident leader. So, when I got into law school, I knew I wanted to use my experience with mock trial to give back and help other students succeed. The students I have worked with have really challenged me in return, helping me grasp a deeper theoretical and practical understanding of the law,” she said. “Mock trial will be a part of me forever, and I plan to be involved for as long as possible.”


The AMTA competition will be held at the School of Law and the Darla Moore School of Business. You can keep up with the AMTA competition and get results throughout the weekend by following them on Twitter or on Facebook.

Taking the Court—Mock Trial team wins 2015 Carolinas Invitational

(Left to right) Colin Spangler, Enoch Hicks, Brett Bayne (coach), Monica Bracey (alumni coach), Amanda Stearns, and Jacob Godwin.

(Left to right) Colin Spangler, Enoch Hicks, coaches Brett Bayne and Monica Bracey, Amanda Stearns, and Jacob Godwin.

Over the weekend of October 23, the University of South Carolina School of Law Mock Trial team took home a win at the 2015 Carolinas Invitational Mock Trial Tournament. This is the team’s second consecutive win at the Carolinas Invitational and their third competitive win overall this calendar year. The team members at the competition included Jacob Godwin, Amanda Stearns, Colin Spangler, and Enoch Hicks led by faculty advisor Brett Bayne and alumni coach Monica Bracey. Law schools in the competition included University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Georgia State, South Texas, Charlotte, and John Marshall.

“It means a great deal to win this competition again. It shows that our program and our system of teaching advocacy skills is working and is creating a recurring cycle of talented advocates ready to go out into the world,” Bayne said proudly. “…More than anything it shows how much work the students have put in and how skilled they have become because of all that hard work.”

“Hard work” includes meeting to practice up to four times a week about a month prior to the trial and meeting every day the week before the trial to conjure up theories and practice presentation skills. The team even gathered during the monumental flood that South Carolina faced at the beginning of the month when schools and roads were closed across the city, emphasizing their passion and dedication to their craft.

“Getting to try a case in front of a full courtroom and jury box was an experience not many students will have during their time in law school, especially not during their 2L year, and I am grateful for the chance to compete at such a high level with this program,” Spangler said. “The success we achieved would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication put in by each and every team member and our coaches.”

The case centered around a man throwing a Molotov cocktail into his ex-girlfriend’s house and subsequently murdering her daughter in doing so. Stearns and Godwin began the trial on the defensive, winning the initial rounds and allowing Spangler and Hicks to compete in the finals as the prosecution.    

“Making it to the final round of the competition was an awesome experience. Enoch, Amanda, Jacob, and I all had made it our goal going into the competition to make it to the final round and bring the trophy back to USC,” Spangler said. “By relying on one another and our coaches, we were able to compete to the best of our abilities and achieve that goal.”

Mock Trial is more than just a competition to these law students, however. Students are able to take the skills they learn in the classroom and put them into action. They are able to prove to their peers and themselves that they are not just students, but future lawyers.

“Essentially, this is the culmination of everything I’ve learned in the past two and a half years…” Hicks said. “…Especially with Brett Bayne as our faculty adviser, and everything he’s taught us and been able to convey to us.”

Taking no breaks, the Mock Trial team is already preparing for an upcoming competition this November in Atlanta, Georgia, and will compete in several more competitions in the spring.

 

McMenamin and Kluska win mock trial competition

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Congratulations to third-year students LeAnna McMenamin (left) and Alexa Kluska (right) for their team victory  in the 7th Annual Judge J. Lyles Glenn, Jr. and Terrell L. Glenn, Sr. Mock Trial Competition.  As the winning team, they received the D. Reece Williams III Award presented by the American Board of Trial Advocates. 

McMenamin also won the Robert McCormick Figg Jr. Trial Advocacy Award, presented to the top individual advocate in the competition by the South Carolina Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Judge Joe Anderson presided over the final trial, which was held on September 25, 2015. A group of distinguished lawyers served as scoring judges. 

Congratulations also to the second-place team of Morgan Barham and Enoch Hicks, who excelled throughout and made the final competition a very close one. 

The rise of the School of Law’s mock trial program was recently profiled in South Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly.

Mock Trial Team Wins TYLA Regionals

Mock_Trial_TYLA_RegionalsThe Mock Trial Team was named the Regional Champions of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) National Trial Competition in February 2015. The team consisted of students (l to r) Morgan Barham (’16), Steven Luckie (’15) and Monica Bracey (’15).  Coaches for this competition included Brett Bayne (’11), Matt Abee (’13), and Kinli Abee.

Bayne led a different team to victory in the Carolinas Invitational in October 2014.