South Texas mock trial

Students Win Outstanding Advocate, Brief at South Texas Mock Trial Challenge

Three Georgia State Law students, Lacey Wheeler (J.D. ’17), Ryan Brown (J.D. ’17) and Brandon Reed (J.D. ’18) fared well in the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge, the country’s largest invitational mock trial competition, held March 2-April 2 in Houston. Brown won the Outstanding Advocate award and Reed’s brief was named Outstanding Brief. The team beat out five schools and advanced to the semifinals.

“Winning Outstanding Advocate was a great personal honor and something that I have been working for the past two years,” Brown said. “I am proud of our team for making the semifinals in such a competitive competition.”

Brown also competed in the Carolina Classic Mock Trial Competition last year, advancing to the quarter finals, and the William Daniel National Mock Trial Championship last semester with Wheeler.

This was Reed’s first competition. “It was a great surprise [to win Outstanding Brief],” Reed said. “You hear about certain schools doing well on the brief every year, and it was a great opportunity to put Georgia State’s name in there as a school that’s out to win the trophy.”

The competition problem dealt with breach of fiduciary duty, battery, and unjust enrichment claims stemming from the taking of stem cells from the plaintiffs’ child for research without consent.

“The problem was a time-crunch,” Reed said. “We only had four weekends to prepare. I wrote the brief over the first week. And then the team practiced about six hours each day on Saturday and Sunday up until the competition.”

The brief problem dealt with phantom damages and the collateral source rule as a subset of the main competition problem.

“For example,” Reed said, “if a plaintiff has an insurance provider, that insurance provider will have a negotiated rate with a hospital. Therefore, the plaintiff’s medical charges will be lower than the amount they were billed.

“A defendant could benefit from arguing that the reasonable damages associated with the medical costs are the negotiated rate,” Reed said. “The purpose of the brief was to argue on the plaintiff’s behalf that these negotiated rates are collateral benefits. Thus, they are not admissible nor are they allowed to lower the defendant’s potential liability.”

Reed also served as a witness for the team.

The team was coached by Tom Jones and Cheryl Champion (J.D. ’93).

“Cheryl and Tom both spent countless hours coaching us, investing their time in us, and simply teaching us,” Brown said. “[These awards] are the school’s, STLA’s, and most importantly they belong to the instructors like Tom and Cheryl because without them there is no chance we would have won anything.”

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