Mock Trial Team Performance Blows California Alum Away

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Publication Date: 1/27/2009

Some four years ago, attorney John M. Kaman ’66 and his family moved back to the San Francisco Bay area from France, where he had practiced and taught law for several years. Back in the States, he resumed practice as a criminal defense lawyer (www.kamanlaw.com). Currently, he is on the conflict panel of the Indigent Defense Administration in San Francisco which supplies lawyers to the poor when the public defender cannot accommodate them. Kaman recently e-mailed the Communications Office:

“During the weekend of January 16, I was a judge in the UCLA Mock Trial Tournament. This event brings together the 40 best college teams in the U.S. which compete against one another in four rounds. I had the pleasure to watch the trial work of undergraduates from UC-Irvine, UCLA, Air Force and one whose name escapes me.

“The rules do not allow us to know the names of competing teams before the trial in order to eliminate any possibility of bias. The best two teams that I judged left my head spinning. These young people were as good as or better than many trial lawyers I have seen over 29 years. The scoring was very close. Because I had to leave before the awards ceremony, I did not know how these teams fared in the overall rankings. But regardless of final rankings, I can’t imagine any two teams doing better.

“Afterward, I asked where they were from. One team was from Yale (no surprise), but the other team, which matched Yale on every level, was Rhodes College. Had I known this at the beginning of the trial I could not have judged that one since I am affiliated with Rhodes (however attenuated the thread). But as I did not know who the students were, no harm was done. Although Rhodes did not win (Columbia did), Rhodes’ won/loss record was 6-2, compared to the winning 7-1 record. Scoring is a bit arbitrary, and with a point here or there, Rhodes could have tied for first.

“The Rhodes people and those who trained them deserve very special praise, for they put Rhodes up successfully against the best of the best and Rhodes more than held its own. It was a pure pleasure to learn that I had a connection to the team. The entire Rhodes community should honor these people. I would not hesitate to try a case with any one of them and they haven’t even been to law school yet. Great team, great school, great faculty.”