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Students to defend Jenckes Cup at UA

November 06, 2008

If your only excuse for not going to Tucson on Nov. 14, is that the drive is so boring as to be sleep-inducing, your defense has more holes than Interstate 10 itself.

Dean Paul Schiff Berman of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law has commissioned a bus to drive students, faculty, staff, alumni and other friends of the College to the University of Arizona on that day to attend the annual Jenckes Cup. The group will cheer on law students Jimmy Cool and Kyle Shelton, who won the 2008 Jenckes Closing Argument Competition on Oct. 16 at the College of Law and will compete in Tucson against competitors from the James E. Rogers College of Law.

The bus will leave at 1 p.m. from the law school, and riders will attend a reception (with free Mexican food) with ASU alumni living in Tucson, attend the Jenckes Cup, and then return to the law school by about 9 p.m. Space is limited, so sign up at as soon as possible.

"I am thrilled to be able to lead a delegation down to Tucson for the Jenckes Cup," Berman said. "Moot Court provides an important opportunity to develop core skills in legal advocacy, and it is also a tremendous amount of fun. I wish our competitors well, and I hope that this bus trip will be a great community-building event."

Cool, a 2L, and Shelton, a 3L, will defend the College's title as winner of the 2007 Jenckes Cup and attempt to keep the cup. Neither law school has scored a back-to-back Jenckes' win in several years, and so the cup has been handed back and forth.
"I would like to break the streak," Cool said.

A Cool-Shelton win would keep the cup all in the family for Cool, whose wife, 2L Sarah Barrios was part of the ASU team that reclaimed it in 2007.

At the Jenckes Closing Argument Competition, Cool and Shelton, along with six other College of Law students, prepared their case for the plaintiff in a simulated contract dispute between a woman whose husband had died and their life insurance company. The other competitors were 2L Tye Smith, who placed third, 3L Trish Stuhan, placing fourth, third-year law students David Chami and Paul Singleton, Barrios, and 1L Patrick Gorman. 

Tamara Herrera, a clinical professor of law and the Moot Court coach, said several attorneys who attended the Closing Argument Competition told her they were impressed with the students' depth of ability in the finals.

"The students in this year's in-house finals were some of the most experienced we have seen," Herrera said. "Both Jimmy and Kyle competed last year on the school's trial team. Because of this, I think they stand a good chance of keeping the Jenckes Cup here at ASU."

In Tucson, the pair again will argue on behalf of the plaintiffs in a case involving two trucking companies and a serious accident between two of their rigs.

Cool and Shelton have been coached this year by Professor Tamara Herrera, and also have received help from Professors Bob Bartels, Michael Berch and Carissa Hessick, Hugo Zettler, director of the College's Criminal Practice Clinic, and Phoenix attorney Howard Cabot, an adjunct professor at the College.

Cool, who has 12 years of mock-trial experience and also coaches undergraduate students, and Shelton, who has competed in nearly a dozen moot court and mock trial competitions at the College, as well as in regional and national contests, have similar preparation styles. Once they've read a case and made a few notes about its various themes, Cool uses long walks to work out the details in his head, and Shelton focuses on crafting powerful opening and closing arguments.

Shelton, who did a bit of stand-up comedy as an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University, said he no longer gets nervous before competitions. The bigger the crowd, the better, he said.

"Moot court is an incredible amount of fun and such a good experience," Shelton said. "It teaches you to be able to walk into a courtroom and be comfortable and to feel a sense of confidence that I don't think you can get without doing these things in law school."

Shelton says he and Cool are confident of their upcoming presentation in Tucson.

"Jimmy is a very talented guy, and I should be able to keep up, so I think we have a very good chance of winning," he said.

Berman already is thinking ahead to the 2009 Jenckes Cup. "Next year, when the Jenckes competition is hosted here at the College of Law, we hope to bring back to campus Moot Court alumni going back to the tenure of founding Dean Willard H. Pedrick, thereby strengthening connections between our current students and the broader alumni community," he said.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law