The Catholic University of America


Trial team in action, 2007. (File photo)


Students Jockey for Coveted Spots on Law School's Trial Team

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Someday they plan to make a living convincing judges and juries to see things their way. As a first step, however, a group of Catholic University Law students had to convince professors and peers that they deserved a spot on the law school’s accomplished trial team, which will soon begin interschool competition. 

On Jan. 12, the trial team hosted its annual Intra-School Competition, offering students interested in polishing their litigation skills the chance to compete for a spot on the team. The competitors consisted of first- second- and third-year students. Each hopeful had to prepare a motion in limine, a cross examination, and either an opening statement or a closing argument based on a competition packet involving a criminal case of arson and felony murder.
The competition began with a morning round. The future litigators delivered their motions in limine and responded to opposing counsel; cross examined a witness, and delivered their opening or closing statements to current trial team members.

Four finalists were selected to advance to the afternoon round: first-year students Melissa Mathieu, Sarah Waters, and Erin DeRiso; and second-year student Emma Noftz. At the end of the afternoon, DeRiso (photo not available) received the highest scores of all competitors and was announced the winner of the Intra School Competition. In addition, Melissa Mathieu (above, left) won best motion in limine, and Sarah Waters (above right) won best cross-examination.
“The competition provides a valuable opportunity for students to demonstrate their litigation skills. The enormous talent of those who competed makes me very hopeful for the future of our trial teams,” said CUA Law Professor Louis Barracato, faculty advisor to the trial team. “I look forward to working with all of them and wish to thank the current members of the trial team for their continuing contributions of time and talent and their untiring dedication to hard work.”
The trial team competes in several competitions each semester, both in the D.C. area as well as across the country, including in Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and California.
Team members earned an outstanding string of honors in 2012. Highlights included Best Direct Examination at the 2012 Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition; advancement to the final round of the 2012 Puerto Rico Trial Advocacy Competition; advancement to the semifinal round of the Pacific McGeorge Sixth National Ethics Trial Competition; and overall victory in the 2012 Mock Trial (Gourley) Competition, sponsored by the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County, PA.