Dateline: February 12, 2013
From Coach Randy Cox
The University of Montana Law School trial teams competed in the Regional Trial Team Competition held in Siuox Falls, South Dakota, February 8 - 10. There were two UM teams - the 3L team of William "Mac" Morris and Matt Jennings, and the 2L team of Rachel Wandersheid and John Newman. The trial competition is sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association.
Twenty teams competed in the regional competition. Making their debut in trial team competition, 2Ls Rachel and John won two of their first three rounds and, with that, the right to advance to the semifinals. This was a great accomplishment for a 2L team. In the semifinal round, Rachel and John faced, and lost to, a very strong, polished 3L team from the University of Denver. The loss in the semifinals will serve as incentive to return next year with the hope of advancing to the national championships.
The 3L team advanced through the competition with wins over, among others, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. In the championships, Mac Morris and Matt Jennings avenged the loss suffered by the 2L team and prevailed over the 3L team from the University of Denver in an extremely hard-fought trial. The trial judge in the semifinal round was a Justice from the South Dakota Supreme Court and, in the final round, a United States District Judge from South Dakota was the presiding judge. Other scoring judges were either Circuit Court judges or Fellows in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
With their win in the regional competition, Mac Morris and Matt Jennings earned the right to advance to the National Competition in San Antonio, Texas, April 4 through 7. This is the third straight year that UMLS has placed a team in the national championships.
In 2011, the team of Tracey Neighbor Johnson and Tim Dailey advanced to the national championships in Houston and in 2012, Zach Franz and Justin Cole advanced to the national championships in Austin, Texas.
The team is co-coached by Randy Cox of Boone Karlberg and Katie DeSoto of Garlington, Lohn and Robinson. Judge Karen Townsend provided special assistance during preparation as did a long list of Missoula lawyers. Special thanks to Hon. Dana L. Christensen for clearing a half day of his busy calendar to preside over a 3L v. 2L practice trial and to then, afterwards, provide invaluable advice and perspective.There were also four witness team members who devoted substantial time to the preparation and team practices: Allie Harrison, Andrew Person, Zane Aukee and Zach Coccoli.
In 2010-11, the team of Tracey Neighbor Johnson and Tim Dailey won the regional competition in Portland, Oregon and advanced
to the national championships in Houston, Texas. The 2011-12 team of Zach Franz and Justin Cole won the regional competition
in Spokane, Washington and advanced to the national championships in Austin, Texas.
2006 Trial Team
Front row: David Steele, Katie Mahe, Professor Cynthia Ford (coach), Jecyn Bremer
Back row: Marla Kranenburg, Austin Knudsen, Burt Hurwitz, Jeff Perkins, Ellen Donohue
Student advocates and witnesses are selected during a competitive process. Students must be in good academic standing (2.0 GPA) to be eligible for this competition. Trial Team members enroll for two credits in the appropriate section of Law 585, Section 3 of Trial Practice, a spring semester course during their second year, and receive a grade from the Trial Team faculty.
The University of Montana team, consisting of advocates Roberta Anner-Hughes and Debra Molskness Cleveland and witnesses Colleen Collier and Tom Winsor, and coached by Professors Greg Munro and Cynthia Ford, was the National Champion in 1992. Montana was Regional Champion in 2001, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1993, 1992, and 1989.
1992 Trial Team
Colleen Collier, Tom Winsor, Debra Molskness Cleveland, ATLA judge, Roberta Anner-Hughes,
three ATLA judges, Professor Greg Munro, Professor Cynthia Ford