Trial Advocacy Team Wins First Place in National Competition

Whittier Law School students Kellen Davis, Kyle Tang, Talia Gallo and Rhon Pascual
Kellen Davis, Kyle Tang, Talia Gallo and Rhon Pascual

Countless hours of practice paid off for the school’s Trial Advocacy Honors Board external competition team who won first place at the mid-October National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition held in San Francisco. Competitors Kellen Davis, Talia Gallo, Rhon Pascual, and Kyle Tang battled nearly two dozen other law schools from across the country to claim the top prize. Hosted by the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the competition challenged teams to litigate a criminal case involving charges of involuntary manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.

In addition to the four competing members, the team was mightily supported by shadow members Awa Henderson, Erik Khorovsky, Jonathan Troast, and Shirely Azizi, who served the critical role of acting as opposing counsel during the final weeks of preparation. Theresa Nguyen also provided enormous support, as did the Executive Board of TAHB, and all members of the student organization.

Kellen Davis, Kyle Tang, the Honorable James Larson, the Honorable Susan Illston, the Honorable Braden Woods, Talia Gallo and Rhon Pascual.
Kellen Davis, Kyle Tang, the Honorable James Larson, the Honorable Susan Illston, the Honorable Braden Woods, Talia Gallo and Rhon Pascual.

The victory was that much sweeter for its Whittier roots, with two of the head coaches hailing from WLS. Dale Durham and Elizabeth Karsokas (both Class of 2014), along with Coach Gautam Sood guided the team to their winning performance. The community effort was further enhanced by the many alumni who volunteered during the final weeks of preparation, including Tammi Luong, Vincent Marinaccio, Casey Hammon, Bret Scott, Justin Blaylock and Christine LaVorgna. And Amanda Bonn of Susman and Godfrey L.L.P. was invaluable in helping to sharpen the team’s case during the four days of competition.

Coach Dale Durham’s observations about the team’s trial skills portend well for each member’s future success in the courtroom. “Our students’ work ethic, mastery of the facts, application of the law and clarity in presenting their case was indistinguishable from that of highly experienced trial attorneys,” he remarked after the final round.

The team also extends its heartfelt gratitude to Associate Dean Radha Pathak who serves as Director of the law school’s Institute for Trial and Appellate Practice. Given that Dean Pathak just recently assumed this director role at the beginning of the fall semester, the question is what is she going to do for an encore? The answer is obvious – cheer on another winning Whittier team.

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