Top Law Students Head to Los Angeles to Battle in National Civil Trial Competition

LOS ANGELES — Student litigants from 16 of the nation’s leading law schools will participate in the 18th-annual National Civil Trial Competition, co-sponsored by LMU Loyola Law School and the Santa Monica law firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. The three-day competition begins Friday, Nov. 15 at the Santa Monica Courthouse and concludes Sunday, Nov.17, 2019 at Loyola Law School’s downtown L.A. campus.

The teams are from American University Washington College of Law; Baylor Law School;
Campbell University School of Law; Chicago-Kent College of Law; Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center; Samford University Cumberland School of Law; South Texas College of Law; St. Mary’s University School of Law; Stetson University College of Law; Syracuse University College of Law; Temple University Beasley School of Law; UCLA School of Law; University of Akron School of Law; University of San Diego School of Law; and the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. The competition involves 64 law student litigants representing their schools on teams of four.

This year’s civil mock trial involves the fictitious case Ricki Rhodes v. Los Diablos Correctional Center and Pat Mercer. The plaintiff is a former inmate suing the prison and its warden for failing to protect him from a violent cellmate. While serving time at the prison, Rhodes suffered a vicious attack by his cellmate who belonged to a well-known prison gang. Before the assault, Rhodes requested that he be moved to a different cell after his cellmate threatened him.

The prison determined the threats did not warrant a move because Rhodes was physically larger than his cellmate. The prison also claims it didn’t want to move Rhodes due to concern it would raise suspicion among other inmates since Rhodes was a confidential informant who actively provided information about other inmates to the District Attorney’s office. After his attack, Rhodes filed a lawsuit alleging the prison deliberately disregarded a known and serious risk of harm that resulted in a preventable injury.

The students will act as advocates/witnesses to perform opening statements, conduct direct- and cross-examination of expert and lay, witnesses, make closing arguments and argue objections based on the Federal Rules of Evidence. Each team will argue their case in front of a panel of judges consisting of prestigious members of the Southern California bar.

“I’m looking forward to this year’s fierce competition between some of the most talented young advocates who will face off in a fascinating case,” said Christine Spagnoli, a partner at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP and a member of the judges’ panel. “It’s exciting to see so many returning students who continue to hone their trial skills,” added Spagnoli.

“Loyola Law School is so proud to host this inspiring event, which allows budding lawyers to get real-world trial experience,” said Professor Susan Poehls, Director of Trial Advocacy Programs at Loyola Law School. “We’re very grateful to have the support, involvement, and expertise of veteran litigators to judge the competition.”

Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP is one of the country’s top plaintiffs’ injury law firms, specializing in wrongful death, catastrophic injury, legal malpractice, and product defect cases. Learn more about the 2019 National Civil Trial Competition at

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