February 23, 2009
In February, the Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial team won first-place honors at the Black Law Students Association’s Northeast Regional Conference. The team will move on to the National Conference in Irvine, California, on March 18.
The winning students were David Knight ’09, Julian Thompson ’10, Nneka Ukpai ’11 and Dominique Winters ’10. Winters opened and Thompson closed the government’s case, and Ukpai and Knight were the opening and closing attorneys, respectively, representing the defendant. The trial was a criminal prosecution of a fraternity member on charges of misdemeanor hazing, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping, following the injury of a pledge who was still comatose at the time of the trial. At the BLSA Mock Trial competition a criminal trial is argued, rather than an appellate trial, which is the focus of the Ames Competition and First-Year Moot Court.
Team members credited the “amazing coaching” of J. Soffiyah Elijah and Dehlia Umunna of the HLS Criminal Justice Institute and nightly practice sessions lasting up to eight hours for their victory. Competitions chair Phillip Criswell ’10 praised the team, saying, “Over the last couple of months they have all worked extremely hard and last week it paid off. They won a competition that HBLSA has not won in years. We are all proud of their outstanding performance and cannot wait to see them compete again in the National BLSA Mock Trial Competition at the end of March.”