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The University of Alabama

Best Defense: UA’s Mock Trial Team Wins at State Tournament

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s Mock Trial Team placed first for defense at the first YMCA Collegiate Judicial Conference and Competition held recently at the Alabama State Supreme Courtroom in Montgomery.

The team competed against five other Alabama universities and colleges. Because of the team’s first place in the mock trial rounds on Saturday, April 17, the team performed as the defense on Sunday, April 18, before Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker and other political leaders and YMCA staff members. The team then won first place for its performance as defense during the entire competition.

UA’s criminal justice department and the Pre-Law Student Association host the Mock Trial Team. In a mock trial competition, student teams play out a case file, portraying prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses.

After extensive preparation, the teams compete in mock-trial scrimmages and tournaments as part of the Mock Trial program. Quanda Stevenson, a criminal justice faculty member, founded the team in 2009 and is the faculty adviser and coach.

“The Mock Trial program is committed to teaching students the necessary legal skills to compete with other mock trial programs offered at colleges and universities in the United States as well as providing the oral and trial legal skills to increase undergraduate students’ preparation for law school or a graduate law-related program,” Stevenson said.

“In addition, this program allows students an opportunity to actually apply what they have learned inside the classroom in a mock court,” Stevenson said.

Student team members are: Thomas Gibson Jr. (captain, Wetumpka), Mike Gendreau (co-captain, Tuscaloosa), Emily Brait (Chicago), Jeslyn Jones (Enterprise), Zita Orji (Birmingham), Forrest Williams (Niceville, Fla.), Jared Alvis (Northport), Micheal Kelsey (Kingwood, Texas), Johana Bucci (Mobile), Ryan Stitt (Carlisle, Pa.) and Ebony Smith (Birmingham).

The criminal justice department is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Teams, as well.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.