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Hundreds Turn out for School’s First Hurricane Invitational Mock Trial Competition

November 11, 2009
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MoNearly 350 competitors, coaches, spectators and volunteer attorneys descended on the School of Business Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to participate in the first Hurricane Invitational mock trial competition.  The event was organized by Don Donelson, business law lecturer and team advisor, who is also on the board of directors of the American Mock Trial Association.

Competing in the Hurricane Invitational, in addition to the University of Miami team, were teams from the University of Georgia, Washburn University, The Citadel, Howard University, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Houston.  More than 70 attorneys from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties volunteered as judges.  The competition used the American Mock Trial Association’s 2009-2010 official case, which is more than 110 pages long and includes witness affidavits, documents, legal codes and legal cases.

The winning team was determined by four rounds of competition over the two day event.  The University of Georgia took first place in the competition, while the University of New Orleans received the Anita Cava Ethics and Professionalism Award, named for the associate professor of business law and director of the School’s Ethics Program.  Additionally, three students from the University of Miami, Will Godar, Abigail Gamer, and Haley Kornfield, were recognized as outstanding individuals.

Although UM did not place first, Kristin Gibson, one of the UM team members, said the event was about more than just winning the competition, as it was also a great learning experience.

“The most valuable part of the competition for me was the feedback from the judges,” Gibson said. They give really great advice on what occurs during the trial, and seeing that they are all lawyers, and some are actual practicing attorneys the advice is really valuable.”

Donelson added that hosting a competition of this magnitude is beneficial because it helps build UM’s reputation with other colleges and in the community.

“Hosting events such as these raises our profile among national universities as it shows our commitment to academic endeavors,” said Donelson.  “In addition to the schools that attended, with so many attorneys attending as volunteer judges, the event helps our perception among the South Florida Legal Community.”

Donelson said plans are already in the works for an even bigger second event, scheduled for January.  The competition tentatively includes Furman University, Pittsburgh, the University of Tennessee, the University of Texas-Austin, Duke University, Brown University, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of California-Berkeley, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University.  January’s competition will be held in one of Miami’s downtown courthouses and will feature more than 120 attorney’s volunteering at the event.

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