Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Verdict in, Mock Trial team guilty of success

It isn’t often you can say UAB tied a Top 25 team, tied a Top 5 team, lost to the defending national champions by a mere five points and had two players named All Americans. Yet that is exactly what a Blazers team accomplished at the American Mock Trial Association National Championships.

Only 43 schools, out of 338 members, qualified for a shot at the AMTA national title. In round one, UAB tied the Top 25 team from Stanford University. The second round saw another Blazer tie; this time it was against a Top 5 team from Miami (Ohio) University.

Round three didn’t get any easier as UAB faced the defending national champions, UCLA. The Blazers lost to the Bruins by one point on one judge's card and by four points on the other judge's card. UAB ended the tournament with a win over Hamilton College to earn Outstanding Trial Team Honorable Mention in the Hon. Edward Toussaint, Jr. Division.

Two Blazers were named All Americans for their performance at the competition. Valencia Jackson, a senior majoring in criminal justice (pictured at left), earned All American honors in the witness category. She played London Bennett, a male eye witness to a car crash at the center of the case.

"I received an All American award because I was on an All American team,” said Jackson. “We encouraged each other, pushed each other, and most importantly loved each other regardless."

Team captain Grady Lowman (pictured below, standing to left), a psychology major, earned All American honors in the attorney category. The two were among 22 honorees selected from several hundred competitors.

UAB finished in a three-way tie for first in the Spirit of AMTA contest. However, the tiebreaker favored the University of Tennessee, so the Blazers took home another national Honorable Mention award. The Spirit of AMTA award is given to the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play.

Team advisers (and Mock Trail program alumni) Joseph Dease and Nathan Mays are in their first year running the program. The duo took over a Blazer team that had missed the national championship two years in a row.


"I cannot begin to express how proud Coach Mays and I are of this team because we really looked at this as a rebuilding year," said Dease. "The students far exceeded our expectations and really represented UAB well. Numerous coaches and judges sought me out during the tournament to express how impressed they were by the team."

The UAB Mock Trial program was started by John Grimes, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Justice Sciences, and Jim Phillips in 1995. The team has qualified for the national tournament in 14 of the past 17 years, with three Top 10 finishes–including two Top 5's and the national championship in 2006.

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