Dayton Law's National Mock Trial Teams
Faculty Advisors: Dennis Lieberman and Dennis Turner
Rachel Cornell (winner Mike O’Loughlin Best Advocate Award), Michael Richardson, John Lintz, Ashten Lester, Rachel Lemaster, Catherine Ricci, Tim Hill and Myranda Black
Tara Taylor and Michelle Thompson Sundagaard
Rodney Jacobs and Michelle Thompson Sundagaard
Mock Trial Competition Defined
In order to become a member of the UDSL Mock Trial Team all candidates must participate in a preliminary competition that will be held on a weekend in either late October or early November. Candidates must be 2’Ls or 3’Ls and have completed an Evidence class or be in the process of taking Evidence. An informational meeting about the Mock Trial Program and the preliminary try-outs will be held in September, but a brief description of the preliminary competition is as follows:
- Candidates will register for the preliminary competition by mid-October.
- Participants will receive a trial packet of a case which includes all the materials necessary for a mini-trial.
- Each participant will try the case at least twice and their performances will be evaluated by a panel of judges.
- Trials will have strict time limits.
- The best performing participants in the initial rounds will compete in a longer third round.
- Ultimately, four students will be selected for the UDSL Mock Trial Team.
- Students who are selected for the team and participate in the Regional Rounds of the competition will receive two credits for the course.
- Grading option C applies to the course.
Read about Michelle's experience
History of the Mock Trial Program
by Professor Dennis Turner
The date was February 5, 1978. The place was Case Western Law School in Cleveland Ohio which was hosting the Sixth Circuit Regional Round of the National Mock Trial Competition. The Competition is the most prestigious mock trial competition in the country with over 300 teams competing. The University Of Dayton School Of Law was the new kid in town. The School of Law had reopened in 1974, had graduated its first class since 1933, and had not previously sent a team to the competition. One of the teams UDSL entered into the competition was comprised of Dennis Lieberman, Michael O’Laughlin who were the in-court advocates, and Jim Todd, who somehow had acquired the moniker, “Disco Duck,” was the alternate. The teams’ commitment to the competition was so strong that they spent weeks preparing their cases and participating in the trials without receiving any academic credit. For them it was an extra-curricular activity, but it provided an opportunity for them to show the legal community that UDSL students could compete with the best advocates from older, more established law schools. The team advisor was Professor Dennis Turner.
When Professor Turner walked into the advisor’s meeting the atmosphere was like a Saloon out west in Tombstone. “Thar’s a stranger in town.” Some of the advisors may have been surprised that the University of Dayton even had a law school. During the pre-competition opening reception, the speculation around the bar was not about whether a Case Western mock trial team would place first in the regional round, that seemed to be a given, but whether the two Case Western teams would take first and second place. In the end, however, the competition turned out to be more like “Shootout at the O.K. Corral,” with “Wyatt” Lieberman and “Doc” O’Laughlin mowing down the opposition like shocks of wheat. Mike O’Laughlin was selected as best advocate in the competition. During the award ceremony there was a new phrase being whispered, “Who are those guys?”
Over the years UDSL Mock Trial teams have carried on the winning tradition begun by Dennis Lieberman and Michael O’Laughlin. UDSL teams advanced many times as winners of the regional competition and competed in the final round held in Texas, finishing as high as third in the country. It is only fitting that Dennis Lieberman is now the coach for the UDSL Mock Trial Team. Professor Turner has continues to be active with the UDSL Mock Trial Program.
Become Part of the Mock Trial Tradition
Students who are selected to the mock trial team must be prepared to spend many hours preparing their case for the regional rounds. During January and February the team will probably practice at least one night a week and on weekends. Then, if the UDSL team wins the regional competition, the team has to prepare an entirely new case for trial before the final rounds in March. The Mock Trial Team is not for the timid or slothful. However, being a member of the Team is by far the best preparation one can have for becoming a trial lawyer. There is nothing comparable. The experience prepares a team member to walk into any courtroom in the country with a confident step. Is this your ambition? Then sign-up for the try-out competition and become part of the Dayton Law Mock Trial tradition.
Support Mock Trial or Volunteer
The Mock Trial Team members are incredibly grateful for the support of the University of Dayton School of Law faculty and administration, as well as attorneys and judges within the local legal community. There are numerous ways to show support for the team through gifts, assistance and services, or volunteering. If you would like to learn more, please contact Dennis Lieberman and Dennis Turner.