Last team standing. Catholic University Law School’s Moot Court National Trials Team was the victor in Seventh Annual John L. Costello Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition, sponsored by George Mason University’s law school and held at the Fairfax County Judicial Center in Fairfax, VA, from Feb. 6-9, 2014.
The three-member Columbus School of Law squad prevailed among the 32 teams in the competition, ultimately besting The University of Texas in the final round.
The grueling test of skill and courtroom acumen began on Thursday evening, stretching the endurance of CUA Law team members Kevin Kleponis (3D), Antonio Moore (3E), and Aliba Henry (3D), posing with law school Dean Daniel Attridge, above.
The group participated in five separate trials in the space of less than 72 hours as it advanced through the first round, second round, and competition advancing rounds to reach the final round on Sunday. The faceoff against their peers from the University of Texas lasted nearly six hours as a United States federal judge from Pittsburgh presided over the student arguments.
“The judge’s post-trial comments were so laudatory about the advocates that I was almost embarrassed,” said Catholic University law school Professor Louis Barracato (top, at left) who coaches and mentors CUA Law’s trials team.
“There were five evaluators for the final round, all of whom were partners in Virginia law firms. Each made a specific comment on how ready the advocates were to practice law. All in all, it was a great weekend,” Barracato concluded.
The 32 law schools that sent teams to compete are scattered nationwide, yet drawn by the unique design of the Costello competition. Unlike many such moot competitions, the Costello advocacy exercise reveals unknown facts and witnesses as the competition progresses, simulating more closely the evolving and unexpected nature of real-life criminal trials.
The dynamic design provides competitors with a realistic experience as counsel in a criminal trial and an exciting take on trial advocacy. Each trial is argued in front of three judges who follow the Virginia Rules of Evidence.