A team of four Catholic University law school students argued their way to the semifinal round of the Pacific McGeorge Sixth National Ethics Trial Competition, held from March 15 to 17 at the Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse in Sacramento.
Sixteen law schools participated in the competition, including some of the leading trial advocacy schools in the nation. The Columbus School of Law team led at the end of three preliminary rounds, then faced Chicago-Kent in the semifinal rounds and lost on a split ballot. Chicago-Kent went on to beat Stetson in the final round.
Catholic University’s team was comprised of (above, left-to-right) James Germano (3L); Bridget Kerlick (3L); Giovanna Miller (2L), and James Uthmeier (1L). “They were all fantastic. They made me proud,” said Professor Louis J. Barracato, the team’s adviser.
Hosted by The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, the National Ethics Trial Competition promotes ethics and civility in the practice of law. Sponsors call it the only law school-sponsored competition that features both an ethical component in the issues to be tried and scoring based on the participants' observation of ethical and civility principles.
The purpose of the competition is to provide an opportunity for student trial lawyers to develop and display their knowledge and skills of professional responsibility in trial work.
Students perform opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and closing arguments, as well as argue objections based on the Federal Rules of Evidence.
This year’s case involved a man convicted of arson and attempted murder who sued his own defense counsel for failing to adequately prepare his defense.
The competition trials are judged by members of the bench and bar, including judges of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and members of the Anthony M. Kennedy and Milton Schwartz Inns of Court.