UCLA School of Law’s trial team finished in second place at the National Board of Trial Advocacy’s 2019 Tournament of Champions, which took place at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 23 to 26.
It was the A. Barry Cappello Trial Team’s first appearance at the most prestigious invitational tournament in the country. Only 16 teams are invited, based on a three-year track record of success. En route to the final round against a team from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, UCLA Law defeated five former national champions: Georgetown University Law Center, Wake Forest School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Harvard Law School and Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
Members of UCLA Law’s successful squad included 2Ls Amelia Bruckner ’21, Jack Eyers ’21 and Chandler Matz ’21 and 3L Deeksha Kohli ’20. The trial team was coached by Amanda Mundell, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, and Justin Bernstein, director of the A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy at UCLA Law.
Over the course of six trials, the students represented both sides of a criminal case in which a parent was accused of involuntary manslaughter after a child died from fentanyl in her sippy cup. Representing the state, the UCLA Law team argued that the defendant’s admissions demonstrated his guilt. Representing the defendant, the UCLA Law team argued that the police ignored evidence pointing to an alternate suspect. The Bruins won both trials in which they represented the state and three of the four trials in which they represented the defense.
The Cappello Program has three more teams participating in competitions this fall.