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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Trial by Combat 2020

Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:51 am
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Hi.  My name is Justin Bernstein.  I'm a law professor and director of trial advocacy at UCLA School of Law.   Along with Drexel's law school, UCLA co-hosts Trial by Combat.

I've gotten several emails recently about Trial by Combat, and I figured it might be best to answer some of them publicly.  If you have other questions, let me know.  The best way to reach me is bernstein[at]law.ucla.edu.

What is Trial by Combat?
It's the 1-on-1 college mock trial national championship.  You can read more about it here .  This year's event is at UCLA School of Law on June 26-28.

Why is at UCLA?  I thought the competition was in Philadelphia?
The tournament is co-hosted by Drexel Law in Philadelphia (where I used to teach) and UCLA Law.  The schools will alternate hosting: last year was in Philly, this summer is in Los Angeles, etc.

When can I expect to hear about my application status?
I believe we've now provided a status update to every applicant.  If you haven't heard from us, let me know.  (Status updates fall into three categories: Most students, unfortunately, are not accepted.  A few are.  And about 20 percent become Finalists; we ask them for updates to their application after ORCS.)  

Why haven't you announced the first 8 competitors?
We anticipate announcing the first pool of accepted students by the end of February.  It will probably be fewer than eight names, though.  We've received more quality applications this year than in previous years.  This has made it harder to identify the very best of the best (remember, we're selecting 16 students among 6,000 nationwide).  We think it's fairer to the applicants, and better for the tournament, if we give competitors more time to develop their mock trial resumes before making final decisions.  So, just like in previous years, we will announce some names before regionals, some after ORCS, and the rest after Nationals -- but on average, we will be announcing more competitors later.  

You can see our list of confirmed competitors here:
https://law.ucla.edu/centers/clinical-and-experiential-learning/trial-advocacy/trial-by-combat/

Who is eligible?
If you are eligible for AMTA competition this season, you are eligible for Trial by Combat 2020.

What are the selection criteria?
We want the best 16 competitors in the country.  Of course, that's a subjective assessment.  The competition places an emphasis on attorney skills, so our selection process does too.  That said, we've accepted students with more witness success than attorney success.  Team success matters a lot, but it's not dispositive.  Both previous years of Trial by Combat have included students whose teams missed Nationals that season.  We care about individual awards -- quality and quantity.  But we also recognize that competitors on the best teams often split ranks.  We care a great deal about having a diverse field.  Diversity includes attributes like gender and race, but it also includes geography and style.  

How do I apply?
Click here.

Can we watch?
As with previous years, the 2020 tournament is open to the public.  We will have more seating for spectators at UCLA than we did when the tournament was at Drexel.  (This isn't remotely a dig at Drexel.  Their Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy is a gorgeous facility specifically designed for mock trial practices; it's probably the best trial advocacy practice facility in the world.  It just isn't designed for lots of spectators, apart from the ceremonial courtroom.)  We also plan to livestream the final round.
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:28 pm
Will TBC be cancelled in the wake of AMTA's Coronavirus cancellations? I'm hoping the very small scope of TBC means that the tournament won't be cancelled ):
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:49 pm
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This morning I sent the email below, which I am sharing here for those interested in our competition.  If you have questions, let me know.




Hello,

On behalf of the law schools at UCLA and Drexel, I am writing to provide an update on Trial by Combat 2020 in light of the public health situation.  This email is going to all confirmed competitors, Finalists, and students who applied in the last week and have yet to receive a decision on their application.  

Is the tournament happening?

Short answer: Our current hope and plan is to host Trial by Combat as scheduled, June 26-28, 2020, at UCLA School of Law.  But the world is changing every day, so our plan may change, too.

Longer answer: We plan to host Trial by Combat if, but only if, it is safe and practical to do so.  We are monitoring world events daily.  Obviously, the public health situation has impacted most large in-person events, including mock trial tournaments: in the last 24 hours alone, national trial competitions at the high school, college, and law school levels have all been cancelled or postponed.  But those were all scheduled for much earlier dates.  For example, the AMTA national championship tournament was scheduled to start in 36 days.  Trial by Combat isn't for more than 100 days.  Our tournament also has a different structure than those that have been cancelled or postponed: competitors get the case one day beforehand rather than weeks or months beforehand, which means we run less (and almost no) risk of cancelling after competitors have already done the hard work of preparing.  So while we want to provide information to competitors and potential competitors as soon as possible, we also have more time to monitor the situation.  In the meantime, please do not purchase non-refundable travel.

What's happening at UCLA and in California?

Our classes have gone remote/online (a challenge when teaching trial advocacy!), and several events have been cancelled.  But I am not aware of any events in June or later being cancelled, so that's a good sign.  We have restrictions against holding events with more than 100 people, but Trial by Combat probably wouldn't exceed that cap.  And, in California, there is no restriction on any event as small as Trial by Combat.  Of course, these circumstances may change, and obviously we won't hold any event prohibited by law or university rules.

How does this situation affect the selection process?

We are momentarily pausing the selection process to see if/when AMTA tournaments get rescheduled.  Performance at ORCS and NCT is a major factor in selection for Trial by Combat, so we would certainly prefer to have that data when making decisions.  We are also aware than some applicants had the chance to show their skills at ORCS, while others have not yet.  Our evaluation will aim to account for that.

If AMTA does not hold additional 2020 tournaments, we may give greater priority to graduating seniors.  Note that of the students already selected, all but one are seniors, and the one junior just earned 20 ranks on both sides of the case at ORCS.  Sydney Gaskins is good at mock trial.

How does this situation affect the competitors who have been already been accepted and/or made their deposits?

It doesn't.  Assuming Trial by Combat goes forward in 2020, you're in.  If you choose to withdraw because of the public health situation, we will refund your deposit as long as the request is timely.  (If you're wondering what constitutes "timely," we will let you know if/when appropriate, but for now there is no deadline and thus nothing to worry about.)

Would the tournament change in any way?

It's too soon to say.  Presumably, we will have more information about public health and preventive measures as the date draws closer, so we will be in a better position to make such decisions then.  

Will you provide updates?

We will update you if anything changes.  And even if nothing changes, we will update you no later than April 1.

***

If you have any questions, let me know.  Stay safe, everyone.


Justin Bernstein
Director of the A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy
UCLA School of Law
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:22 pm
Yesterday I sent this email to our Trial by Combat mailing list:


On behalf of the law schools at UCLA and Drexel, I am writing to provide another update on Trial by Combat 2020  This email is going to all confirmed competitors, Finalists, and students with a pending application.

Is the tournament happening?

Yes!  

It will either be in person at UCLA School of Law, or online in a fully synchronous audio-video conferencing format, such as Zoom.  Either way, the dates will remain June 26-28, 2020.  

In determining whether to hold the event in-person or online, we will look to the same factors mentioned in our previous update.

What's happening with the selection process?

The selection process was paused for a few weeks.  We plan to reopen it soon.  

While an online version might dissuade some from participating (trials are more fun in person), it may also make participation possible/easier for others (no flight or hotel costs; no travel days).  If the event does shift online, we will confirm with any current applicants/invitees that they still want to compete -- and promote the event broadly so any students previously concerned about costs/travel might consider applying.

As mentioned before, our selection process will try to account for the fact that some applicants had the chance to show their skills at ORCS, while others have not yet.  And if AMTA does not hold additional 2020 tournaments, we may give greater priority to graduating seniors.  

Could an online tournament work?

We are confident it would.  Obviously, there is no substitute for competing in person, in a courtroom.  But from our preliminary testing of online platforms, we believe this would still be a fun competition.  It would also carry some benefits (e.g., more creativity regarding demonstrative aids and display of exhibits).

Will you provide updates?

We will have a further update by April 24.

***

If you have any questions, let me know.  Stay safe, everyone.


Justin Bernstein
Director of Trial Advocacy
UCLA School of Law
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Mon Apr 13, 2020 10:35 am
This morning, I sent the email below to our Trial by Combat mailing list.  If you have not previously applied to Trial by Combat and wish to do so now, please complete  this form by April 20.



Trial by Combat 2020 will be conducted via Zoom.  In almost every other respect, the competition remains the same:

  • Limited to 16 competitors out of 6,000+ nationwide


  • Case released on the morning of June 26, trials on June 27-28


  • Four preliminary trials in which each competitor plays each role (P attorney, P witness, D attorney, D witness) once, followed by semi-final and championship trials


Trial competition is obviously better in person.  This format, however, does offer certain advantages:  No one will be excluded because of travel/hotel costs, so we are even more likely to draw the best of the best.  We can recruit not only tons of judges, but tons of super qualified judges.  And the online format permits much more creative uses of exhibits, demonstratives, and technology.  In other words, we expect Trial by Combat 2020 will be a lot of fun -- and we expect it to identify a worthy champion.

If you have previously been accepted, please email me by April 20 to confirm you still wish to compete.  If you have submitted an updated post-ORCS application, please email me by April 20 to confirm you still wish to be considered for a spot. Otherwise, please complete this form by April 20 so we have all of your accomplishments.  

Coaches, we will accept applications from students who had not previously applied.  Their deadline to apply is April 20.

As the tournament gets closer, we will provide a rulebook updated to reflect the online format, we will answer all questions about the format, and we will do a practice session on Zoom so everyone can get acquainted with how trial will work.
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:21 am
In light of the switch to an online format, and because of our desire to include more students during a season when so many have lost opportunities to compete, we are introducing one change to Trial by Combat (for this year only): Each advocate may have a second chair.  Thus, each "team" comprises (up to) three people:

1. Advocate.  This is the person selected to compete.  They do all the speaking during trial.  They select their Second Chair and Coach.  
2. Second Chair. They may assist during preparation, operate exhibits and demonstrative aids during trial, and communicate with the Advocate during trial.  Think of them as silent co-counsel.  The Second Chair may be any currently AMTA-eligible student from the Advocate's school.
3. Coach.  They may assist during preparation but are not permitted to communicate with the Advocate or Second Chair during trial.  Anyone is eligible to serve as Coach.

We hope the addition of a second chair will make the technology easier to operate, encourage more creative use of exhibits and demonstratives, and, most importantly, make the competition more fun by allowing people to work with teammates/friends.

As a reminder, April 20 is the deadline to apply (or, if you applied or were accepted previously, to let us know you still want to participate).

Please let us know if you have any questions.
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Mon Apr 20, 2020 10:57 am
We will be updating the list of confirmed competitors on our webpage:
https://law.ucla.edu/centers/clinical-and-experiential-learning/trial-advocacy/trial-by-combat/
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:42 am
Trial by Combat starts in one week. At 8am Pacific, we will introduce the competitors, second chairs, and coaches at our welcome ceremony. Immediately after, we will release the case online. You can see all of the tournament material (including the case once it's live) here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1BRFvfiuPjSOS8hZQbIUxgQjMuYzxia-l.

We intend to post pairings throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, June 28, the awards ceremony and final round will be livestreamed to our Trial by Combat YouTube page. I will provide the link as the date gets closer.
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:16 pm
The 2020 case is now live and publicly available.  It is inspired by a certain storyline from the Tiger King. Synopsis: "Exotic animal enthusiast Cara Bassett is charged with the murder of her husband, who disappeared one night in 2017 and was never seen again."
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1BRFvfiuPjSOS8hZQbIUxgQjMuYzxia-l

We recorded our Zoom opening ceremony this morning, where we introduce our 16 competitors and alternates.  Our Trial by Combat YouTube channel has the opening ceremony and the judges orientation.  This will also be the location for Sunday's livestream of the final round.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY2VMhERummguzGemzY4QTg
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:53 am
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The R1 pairings have been added to our Tournament Folder (link above).  I will be adding the pairings throughout the weekend.

MockAnalysisIsMyDrug and Calimocker123 like this post

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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:57 am
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We will livestream the awards ceremony (5pm Eastern / 2 pm Pacific) and the final round (6 pm Eastern / 3 pm Pacific) on the Trial by Combat YouTube page:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY2VMhERummguzGemzY4QTg
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Trial by Combat 2020 Empty Re: Trial by Combat 2020

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