Criminal Justice Section  


Criminal Justice Magazine
Summer 2005
Volume 20 Issue 2

Howard University Wins 2005 Trial Competition

Howard University School of Law prevailed over Brooklyn Law School to win the Fifteenth Annual National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition on April 2, 2005, in Chicago. Sponsored by the ABA Criminal Justice Section and The John Marshall Law School, this year’s competition hosted 18 law school teams, including a British team from the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. Howard’s L. Chris Stewart received the Outstanding Advocate Award for his performance as a defense attorney in the championship round.
American University’s College of Law and St. John’s University School of Law advanced to the semifinals. Gray’s Inn came in fifth, tied for a semifinalist spot, but was edged out narrowly on tie-breaker points by Howard. Students prosecuted and defended a case in which a defendant was accused of distributing controlled substances hidden in home-delivered pizzas. A DVD of the championship round trial and critiques will be available this summer.
Previous law school winners include Harvard, Stetson, Florida State University, Albany, Creighton, IIT-Kent, and University of Georgia. To date, 131 different law schools have participated, including teams from Ireland (Trinity College and University College, Dublin), New Zealand (Canterbury University and Victoria College), and England (Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn).
The Gray’s Inn team consisted of two fledgling barristers, Shabnam Walji and Emily Beer, who acted as advocates; John Marshall students Keith Meister and Anna Gonis were their witnesses; local attorneys Brendan Shiller and Mary Barry were their coaches.
More than 130 judges and lawyers from the Chicago area evaluated the student advocates, and many Criminal Justice Section members assisted in the competition. John Marshall students served as staff and volunteer bailiffs.
Albert Krieger, 2002-03 Section chair; Thomas Sullivan, a Section member and former U.S. attorney; John Clitheroe, former chair of the International Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section; Charles Aron, primary author of the 2005 trial materials; and incoming Section Council member Stephen Komie served as juror-evaluators for the championship round jury. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Carol Kipperman presided. Section members serving on the advisory board include Terence MacCarthy, Hon. James Holderman, Michael McMann, Michael Th. Johnston, Judy Clarke, Hon. Cara Lee Neville, Neil Sonnett, Prof. Jimmy Gurule, Prof. Randolph Stone, and Prof. Charles Ogletree.
In 1998, the competition won the American Bar Association’s “Best of the Sections Award” for its contributions to American law. John Marshall professor Ronald C. Smith, 2001-02 Section chair, has directed the competition since its inception in 1991.
The Sixteenth Annual Competition will be held April 6-8, 2006, in Chicago. For more information, contact Professor Smith at (312) 987-1444 or e-mail or go to

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