McGeorge School of Law

Chicago-Kent Wins National Ethics Competition

March 21, 2012

Chicago-Kent Wins National Ethics Competition

The winning Chicago-Kent team: From left, Judge Kevin Culhane, chief deputy district attorney Cynthia Besemer, Jordan Leibovitz, Erin Mayer, Judge William Shubb, Tara Korthals, Bernadett Guy, University regent Noel Ferris and attorney Gary Gwilliam

Chicago-Kent College of Law took top honors at the 6th National Ethics Trial Competition (NETC) hosted by the University of the McGeorge School of Law, March 15 through 17, at the Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse in Sacramento. It was Chicago-Kent's second victory in the prestigious national invitational mock trial event, which began in 2006.

The McGeorge team of Kendra Bentschy, '12, Claire Calvert, '13, Vanessa Hunter, '13 and Greg Porter, '13, coached by Alan Donato, '09, and Bret Wasley, '08, performed well in the preliminary rounds but did not advance in the outstanding field. McGeorge Professor Jay Leach was the director of the competition. Professor Cary Bricker was the co-director and the much-publicized Willingham fire case from Texas formed the factual foundation for this year's problem.

Chicago-Kent students Bernadett Guy, Tara Korthals, Jordan Leibovitz and Erin Mayer comprised the winning team, which edged Stetson University in the final round. Catholic University and St. John's University also reached the semifinals. Ryan Guptill of Georgetown University won the award for Top Advocate Preliminary Rounds. Stetson's Josef Rosen won the Top Advocate Final Rounds trophy and his team walked off with the Most Professional Team Award.

The NETC is sponsored by McGeorge, the Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and ABOTA, and made possible by the generous donations of Sacramento attorneys Bob Buccola, '83, Noël Ferris, '79, Parker White, '80, David Mastagni, '73, and the law firm of Porter Scott. The field also included: American University, University of Buffalo, Brooklyn Law School, Fordham University, University of Houston, Mercer University, UC Hastings, South Dakota University, South Texas College, Temple University, and McGeorge.

The final round of the competition was judged by a prestigious panel that included Judge William Shubb, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California; Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin Culhane, '76, Sacramento County chief deputy district attorney Cynthia Besemer, '78, University of Pacific Regent Noël Ferris, and veteran attorney Gary Gwilliam.

"I usually tell my students to take the panel's post-round commentary at a mock trial competition with a large grain of salt, but these panels all had valuable and sound advice — most unusual and refreshing," said one veteran visiting team coach.

More than 60 Sacramento area attorneys, judges, district attorneys, federal defenders, public defenders and law professors participated in the three-day event as judges, including eight Superior Court of California judges, five federal judges and magistrates, and a California Third District Court of Appeal justice.