Tuesday, January 30, 2018

National Champions: St. Thomas Law Beats Harvard and UC Hastings to Win National Trial Team Competition

The St. Thomas University School of Law’s trial team continued its championship run by being crowned the 2018 ABA Labor and Employment Law National Trial Competition champions. This year's national competition was held from January 27-28 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and featured six law schools from around the country - Harvard Law School, Northwestern University School of Law, University of California Hastings College of Law, William and Mary Law School, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, and St. Thomas University School of Law; all champions in their own regions. St. Thomas Law’s team was represented by students Luis Garcia, Karina Harduvel, Jillian Tate, and Chanae Wood. The team earned the trip to New Orleans  by besting Emory University School of Law in the regional competition last October.

St. Thomas Law’s team was represented by students Jillian Tate, Karina Harduvel, Chanae Wood and Luis Garcia 
 Each round of the competition consisted of the teams representing either the Plaintiff or the Defendant. As plaintiff representatives, the St. Thomas Law team argued to a jury that the Plaintiff, an employee of the Defendant, was discriminated against, and fired for, religious reasons. As representatives of the defendant, the students argued that the Plaintiff was not fired for religious reasons, but rather, because the Plaintiff was harassing other employees.

In the preliminary rounds, St. Thomas competed against Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and Northwestern University School of Law. After winning both rounds, St. Thomas Law faced off against Harvard Law School in the semi-finals. Karina Harduvel and Chanae Wood argued on behalf of the Defendant, GEM Corporation. They prevailed over Harvard Law as jurors stated that St. Thomas Law team members were the best advocates of the competition.

“None of this would be possible without the support of each other and the training from our coaches. said Harduvel. “This was truly a team effort.” Teammate Wood exuded with pride as she also stated what an honor and privilege it was to represent St. Thomas on a national level. 

“Every sacrifice our team made was worth it because together we were able to make history! It is an incredible feeling to be a national champion,” said Wood.

In the final round, St. Thomas Law went head to head against the defending national champion, the University of California Hastings College of Law. Luis Garcia and Jillian Tate argued on behalf of the Plaintiff, Jamie Price, and when it was all said and done, the presiding judge, United States Circuit Court Judge of the Sixth Circuit, Bernice B. Donald, announced St. Thomas Law as the National Champions.

“I am honored and blessed to bring this home,” said Garcia . His teammate Jillian Tate also stated that she was beyond honored that the team was crowned national champions. “All the late nights and countless hours of practice were beyond worth the feeling of hearing our team being called national champions.” said Tate. 

The team was coached by St. Thomas Law alum and litigation managing attorney of the law firm PeytonBolin, PL., Michael Mayer, Esq., Assistant School Board Attorney for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Jeff James Esq., Assistant Public Defender from the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office, Dionne McDonald-Josephs, and St. Thomas Law Professor Kenya Smith.

“These students deserve this.” said Mayer. “They exemplified the meaning of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. From the beginning, they had one goal in mind and did not let anything get in the way of making that happen. I am so very proud of them.”

Team Coach Jeff James, Esq. also expressed his pride in the St. Thomas Law team and enjoyed watching them transform from law students to attorneys.

Congratulations to St. Thomas Law and the Trial Team organization.

With numerous past awards received, and state and national championships, this newest national championship is yet another reminder of the commitment to excellence in the St. Thomas trial team program. The purpose of the Mock Trial Board is to promote excellence in litigation and trial advocacy skills. Students participate in state, regional and national advocacy competitions, vying for team membership through tryouts. St. Thomas University School of Law trial teams have achieved prominence in numerous competitions.

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