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Two U of M Law School Teams Advance to Finals of Competitions University News
For release: January 27, 2010

For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

Two teams from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law have advanced to the national finals of competitions sponsored by the National Black Law Students Association.

The Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team won the Southern Region championship round; the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Team was the regional runner-up. Both teams will compete in the national championships in Boston in March.

The Frederick Douglass travel team, Lachina Algers and Joseph McKinney, are coached by Andre Mathis, a U of M alumnus and an attorney with Memphis law firm Glankler Brown. Members of the Thurgood Marshall travel team are Bridgett Stigger, LaTonnsya Burney, Yasmin Mohammad and Chandra Madison. They are coached by Melanie Murry, associate university counsel for the U of M.

Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team, from left to right, LaChina Alger, coach Andre Mathis, and Joseph McKinney.
Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team, from left to right, LaChina Alger, coach Andre Mathis, and Joseph McKinney.

The Southern Region, the largest region of the NBLSA, includes schools from Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico.

In the moot court competition, teams argue a fictitious case as if they are in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. In some rounds, the students argue for the defendant; in other rounds they represent the U.S. government. They were assigned a criminal case with arguments involving the Fourth (search and seizure) and Fifth (due process) Amendments.

There were 25 teams in the moot court contest. The U of M defeated two teams from the University of Florida as well as teams from the University of Arkansas and the University of Georgia.

 “I’m very proud of Lachina and Joseph,” said Mathis. “They deserve all of the credit for their success. When we started the process back in September, we had a singular goal of winning the entire competition, not simply performing well. Lachina and Joseph accepted the challenge and achieved the goal. I believe any goal can be accomplished through hard work and dedication. Now we have a new challenge and a new goal.  We want to win the national competition.”

Thurgood Marshal Mock Trial Team, from left to right, Bridgett Stigger, LaTonnsya Burney, Yasmin Mohammad and Chandra Madison. Not pictured is coach Melanie Murry, associate counsel for the University of Memphis.
Thurgood Marshal Mock Trial Team, from left to right, Bridgett Stigger, LaTonnsya Burney, Yasmin Mohammad and Chandra Madison. Not pictured is coach Melanie Murry, associate counsel for the University of Memphis.

In a mock trial, teams conduct a simulated trial based on a set problem, calling witnesses and addressing the jury. This year’s case is a criminal matter involving theft of a trade secret. Students have to be prepared to argue for the prosecution or defense. There were 20 teams in the Thurgood Marshall competition; the U of M  placed second in the region in the final round.

“Coming in second place is a true testament to the students’ hard work, drive, and ability to adapt. It is also an example of the quality of the education the students receive at the law school. Our goal now is to build on what we’ve learned so that we can ensure victory in Boston,” said Murry.

“We are delighted to see both teams advance to nationals,” said Barbara Kritchevsky, director of advocacy for the law school. “Their success is a testament to the teams’ and coaches’ hard work and to the success of the Memphis advocacy program as a whole.”

Dean Kevin Smith added, “We are enormously proud of the teams and their coaches and wish them great success in the national competitions in March.”


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