ATLANTA — Georgia State University College of Law's Student Trial Lawyers Association mock trial team of Jesika Wehunt (J.D.'13), Marc Hood (J.D.'12), Paul Shuman (J.D. '14), John Eric Schleicher (J.D. '14), Joe Huffman (J.D. '14), and Blake Poole (J.D. '14) placed second in the William Daniel Mock Trial Competition on Nov. 16-18 in Atlanta.
Loyola University School of Law in Chicago narrowly won the competition 4-3. Sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, the competition invites 18 teams each year. It is named in honor of the late Judge William W. Daniel of the Superior Court of Fulton County.
"This is the first time STLA has had three final finishes in one semester and the first time any law school has done that since 1994," says Vandana Murty, STLA president. Since October, Georgia State's STLA teams have placed in two other competitions: the Lone Star Classic Competition and the National Trial Advocacy Competition.
The case was a variation of the Winecoff Hotel Fire in Atlanta, which was the deadliest hotel fire in American history, says Shuman, a team witness.
"The thing I took away from this experience was that preparation pays off," says Poole, a team witness. "I think it boiled down to the amount of time and effort we put into practicing as well as the great advice we got from our coaches and alumni."
Georgia State's team was coached by Alison Burleson (J.D. '00) and Kristen Spires (J.D. '12). Georgia State beat teams from Mercer, Georgetown, Duquesne and Temple universities and went undefeated through the semifinals.
"On top of weeks of practices, the coaches took us through grueling scrimmage sessions where we had to adapt to different advocacy styles and case themes," says Hood, at team attorney. "Due to their diligence, we felt well prepared."
Schleicher concurred, "for the past six weeks, our team spent countless hours practicing, calling the GSU courtroom our second home."
"We really had to be able to see both the strengths and weaknesses of each side and think through how to address them, which is a skill all attorneys should master," says Wehunt, a team attorney.