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BLSA Students Finish Fourth in National Competition

BLSA students at Indiana Supreme Court

University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law students Asia Ellis, Anthony Franklin, Taylor Kennedy and Toria Levy finished in fourth place, out of 61 teams, in the National Black Law Student Association Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition.

The students earned second place at the Midwest Black Law Student Association Constance Baker Motley Trial Competition held in Indianapolis. The team’s second place finish secured them a spot in the National BLSA Mock Trial Competition. The team felt prepared for and confident during the competition because of their coursework at UK Rosenberg Law.

“In preparation for this case, I earned practical experience preparing a witness for trial, filing motions and creating a persuasive theory of the case to get a ruling in my favor,” Asia Ellis said. “This competition also helped me apply the different concepts my professors have taught me in the last two years to be a successful attorney in the future.”

The Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition is one of six regional competitions hosted by the National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) and one of the most highly regarded mock trial competitions for law students nationwide.

Students felt immense support from university and college staff in advance of the competition.

“Our coaches Ron Walker and Gerry Harris have been instrumental in this process as have the members of the John Rowe Chapter, with some donating money and giving up their Saturdays to come listen to us practice our trials and provide feedback,” Taylor Kennedy said.

“There were so many faculty members and alumni that were involved in helping us prepare for the competition," Ellis said. "They made sure we had the necessary supplies and tools to be adequately prepared to be successful.” 

In addition to Ron Walker and Gerry Harris, UK Rosenberg Law would like to thank the following local attorneys who dedicated their time to prepare the students for competition:  Leah Mason, Denotra Gunther, Anthony Gray, John McNeil, Carlos Ross and Daniel Whitley.

During the competition, rounds simulate a trial proceeding in which each team, made up of four members, offers opening statements, directs and cross-examines witnesses alongside closing arguments. Participants are evaluated on distinguished criteria: overall courtroom presence, command of the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, team work, timeliness and accuracy of objections.

In the national competition, the top three placing teams from each of the six regional competitions faced off for first place honors.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

By Danielle Donham 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 3, 2020)