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UT Austin Mock Trial Team wins national championship

The University of Texas at Austin School of Law mock trial team won first place this weekend at the National Tournament of Champions, the premier mock trial tournament in the United States.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin School of Law mock trial team won first place this weekend at the National Tournament of Champions, the premier mock trial tournament in the United States.

The five-member team was formed in September and worked together for only two months before the tournament, which was held in Syracuse, N.Y., on Nov. 8-11.

“This is really the crown jewel as far as titles go,” said team member Jay Ellwanger. “If you couple this win along with the opening of the new (John B.) Connally Center for the Administration of Justice, I think we are arguably the best advocacy program in the country.”

Ellwanger and the other team members, Chris Panatier, Zandra Collins, Mike Golden and Karen Jones, are third-year law students at UT.

Selection for the tournament is based on past performance in trial competitions sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Trial Lawyers Association. This year, the top 18 teams were invited to take part in the three-day, six-round national event.

After the UT Austin team received an invitation to the Tournament of Champions, tryouts were held by Coach Steve Harris and Assistant Coach Angela Hahn, who selected the five members who would represent UT Austin at the event.

Once at the tournament, the team was given a “trial problem” drafted by a Syracuse University law professor. Students were to make opening statements, closing arguments and conduct direct cross-examinations for both sides of the case. Evaluated on the basis of trial skills, forensic talent and ability to make tactical decisions, the UT Austin team advanced through four preliminary rounds before moving on to the semi-final and final rounds, and, ultimately, winning the title of tournament champions.

This is the first time in the 12-year history of the tournament that UT Austin has won the championship.

One team member, Chris Panatier, also won an individual award during the event. He received the distinction of Best Advocate for the final round.

For more information contact Mollie Wettstein, public relations officer, UT School of Law Board of Advocates (512) 232-3680.