April 18, 2013
Team coach Robert Withers (left) with second-year students Anastasia Carter, Riley Branch and Luke Calhoun.
A team of second-year students claimed Texas Tech University School of Law’s 28th national championship at the inaugural Show Me Challenge National Voir Dire Competition hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Riley Branch of Aspermont, Luke Calhoun of Lufkin and Stacie Carter of Centennial, Colo., beat 11 teams from some of the nation’s top trial advocacy schools in this first-of-its-kind contest judging jury-selection and opening-statement skills. Calhoun additionally claimed the Best Voir Dire award.
The term “voir dire” refers to the process used for jury selection.
“Voir dire is one of the most important skills a successful trial attorney needs,” said team coach Robert Withers, a 2011 Texas Tech Law alumnus and felony prosecutor with the Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. “The Show Me Challenge provided as close to a real-life simulation of the jury selection process as one can get without having an actual trial.”
The voir dire championship marks Texas Tech Law’s third national advocacy title in the past five weeks, and the fourth for the 2012-2013 academic year. This year Texas Tech Law teams have also claimed three national final trophies, four semifinal finishes, three quarterfinal finishes, four regional championships and six Best Brief/Best Advocate awards.
Withers said that to earn the voir dire title, team members had to overcome challenges related to competing in a new tournament. These included learning a new skill set and dissecting a complicated case record.
“I really am in awe of my team’s skills as advocates,” Withers said. “Stacie, Luke and Riley had the opportunity to only see two actual voir dires before heading to Kansas City, so the fact that they could take what they learned given their limited exposure to the process is remarkable.”
The Texas Tech School of Law is a leader among Texas law schools with a 16-year average pass rate of 90 percent on the State Bar Exam.
A small student body, a diverse faculty and a low student-faculty ratio (15.3:1) promotes learning and encourages interaction between students and professors.