STLA Team Wins 2017 William Daniel National Trial Competition
Christopher Ryan (J.D. ’18) Named Best Advocate
Georgia State University College of Law Student Trial Lawyers Association team won the 2017 William Daniel Mock Trial Competition for the second consecutive year. Cameron A. Mobley (J.D. ’18) and Christopher Ryan (J.D. ’18), attorneys, along with the witnesses, Joshua Jones (J.D. ’19), Hayden Hillyer (J.D. ’19), Devin Rafus (J.D. ’19) and Brittany Barto (J.D. ’19), beat Maryland in the final round of the Nov. 17-19 competition at the Fulton County Courthouse.
The team, coached by Leyna Palmer Pope (J.D. ’16) and Deah Warren (J.D. ’07), went undefeated all weekend, beating Temple University, University of Georgia and University of Houston in the group stage. The team beat Michigan State University in the semifinals.
“To be recognized for our work by real trial attorneys, who one day will be our colleagues, is truly humbling,” said Ryan, who also won Best Advocate. “Our team worked so hard, and to see it all pay off was beyond rewarding.”
The case was about a bar shooting in which the state charged the defendant with murder with the defendant claiming self-defense. In the final round, Mobley delivered the opening statement and Ryan gave the closing argument.
“My defense close is what I’m proudest of from the trial,” Ryan said. “In the close, I got to put the prosecution’s case on trial and point out all the holes in it. That’s not something you can anticipate until that trial. It’s about reacting—paying close attention throughout the trial, and then developing a way to explain to the jury why the other side is wrong.”
Even while having first-round jitters, Mobley said he felt confident throughout the competition. “Knowing all of the hard work we had put in during preparation allowed me to be confident in how we performed at all times. I had an excellent team and fierce coaching from Deah Warren and Leyna Pope. I feel that my unwavering confidence rested in the fact that I never had to wonder if my teammates were going to do a good job because I knew they would. That allowed me to focus solely being the best contributor to our success that I could be.”
Ryan said the coaches made sure the team was ready for anything. “Their experience, advice, and guidance shaped everything we did,” he said. “They pushed us to develop a solid theory of the case.”
Camaraderie also played a role in the team’s success. “I love working with Cam. We have so much fun, and we communicate so well, which is essential during trial,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know Josh, Brittany, Hayden, or Devin before this experience, but they brought so much energy and dedication to our team.”
Mobley concurred that the team cohesion helped with the grueling and long practices.
“Even when we were tired, frustrated, and worn down in the few weeks leading up to competition, we were always able to pick the other up and keep the machine running,” he said.
This is the second STLA win this year. In October, Andy Navratil (J.D. ’18), Brandon Reed (J.D. ’18), Casey Wilson (J.D. ’19) and Kevin Mathis (J.D. ’19), won the Mockingbird Challenge in Alabama. The team was coached by alumni Cheryl Champion White (J.D. ’93) and Kevin Coleman (J.D. ’15).