Post Date: April 7, 2004

Last week, a team of Harvard Law students won first place at the 14th annual National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition in Chicago. The competition, which is co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association and John Marshall Law School, was held on April 1-3.

The HLS team consisted of four women: 3Ls Laura Ferry, Kristen Nelson, and Theresa Therilus, and 2L Cassie Dick. In addition to the overall win, Laura Ferry received the Best Advocate Award. The team was coached by Criminal Justice Institute Deputy Director Soffiyah Elijah, CJI Clinical Instructor Gloria Tan, and CJI Sacks Fellow, Kyana Stephens.

The fact pattern involved a police officer accused of drug conspiracy. Laura Ferry and Cassie Dick represented the defendant, and Kristen Nelson and Theresa Therilus represented the prosecution. The team began practicing in January and met twice a week, including sessions that went past midnight.

Twenty teams from around the country are invited to compete in the annual competition. All 20 teams participate in the initial three rounds of trials. Judges and attorneys from around the country evaluate and score the competitors. The four teams with the highest scores advance to the semi-finals. Harvard defeated Syracuse, the top-seeded team, in the semi-final round to advance to the final round against Louisiana State University. The Harvard team placed second last year, losing to the University of Georgia in the final round.