The Catholic University of America



Lindsey Cloud and Chris Hall were the top-scoring defense team in the competition.
The CUA Law team was runner-up to the University of Texas by a very narrow margin.

CUA Team Reaches Final Round in Trial Advocacy Competition

Continuing a string of recent impressive performances by Catholic University law students, a team of three second-year students from the Columbus School of Law reached the final round of the John L. Costello National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition, held in Fairfax, Va., on Feb. 10 to 13, 2011.  

Sponsored by George Mason University School of Law’s Trial Advocacy Association, the fourth annual Costello Competition hosted 24 teams from around the country. In the end, CUA’s team was narrowly edged in the final round by the University of Texas School of Law. The split vote among the judges yielded a margin of victory that was by a mere percentage of a point.
“When the judges discovered that our team of three 2L's competed against a team of 3L's they were even more impressed,” said Professor Louis Barracato, faculty adviser to the trial team.
Lindsey Cloud, team coach John Sharifi, 2002, Chris
Hall and Annie Khirallah. 
Along the way, the three CUA Law students bested teams from Duke, NYU, Brigham Young University, Pace University, and out-performed many other teams from across the country.
Lindsey Cloud and Chris Hall were the advocates for the defense, and Annie Khirallah was the defendant. The final round was held in a packed courtroom before a 12- member jury that included an appellate judge. In the end, the Cloud/Hall team was the top-scored defense team in the entire competition.
2L Jessica Missios and 3L Denny Clark were the advocates for Catholic University’s second team in the competition; 3L Anna Vlasova was the defendant.  Although they won all of their rounds, only two defense teams advanced to the fourth round.    
Moving beyond the earliest rounds was difficult for all. Eleven law schools sent two teams to the Costello competition. Of those, only CUA and BYU had both of their squads move beyond the preliminary round.  
“I was very proud of your commitment, the time spent in practice, and the genuine professionalism of your presentation. You did us proud,” said Barracato to team members.
CUA Law alumnus John Sharifi, 2002, who was a student member of another CUA winning team in a National Trial Competition, coached the team. His tireless effort and expert advice contributed immensely to the team's preparation, performance, and success, said Barracato.   
Awaiting the final results: CUA Law on left, U. of TX on right. 

Students prepare intensely for such trial competitions and are emotionally invested in the outcome. When the University of Texas was announced as the ultimate winner, the CUA students rose together as one and went over to congratulate the Texas team. “It was such a positive reflection of who we want to be as a community,” Barracato commented. "That display of sportsmanship and professionalism wowed the judges and the audience.”
The Costello competition is designed to take participants outside the typical realms of law school competitions. By revealing unknown facts and witnesses as the competition progresses, it simulates the evolving and unexpected nature of real-life criminal trials.

Judges congratulated finalists afterward.

This year’s practice trial was Commonwealth v. Taylor McMillan.
Each trial takes place in a courtroom at the Fairfax County Judicial Center in front of three judges. The top two winners of the 14 regional competitions will compete in the National Competition April 6-10, 2011, in Houston.