Washburn Law Wins National Voir Dire tournament

Photograph: Voir Dire Champs

Washburn University School of Law won the "Show Me Challenge" National Voir Dire tournament on Saturday, April 9, 2016. The three-day event was hosted by UMKC. Washburn Law's team of Brandon Katt, JD Candidate ’16; Blair Loving, JD Candidate ’16; and Suzanne Lueker, JD Candidate ’17, won first place in the tournament, defeating teams from American University, Mississippi College, Fowler School of Law, and Texas Tech.

Washburn Law’s team is coached by Danielle, '09, and Jay Hall, '07, both of whom also received Washburn undergraduate degrees. The team also featured alternate Edna Reyes, JD Candidate ’17, who helped the competition team prepare for the tournament.

Voir dire is the process of jury selection.  The "Show Me Challenge" is the only competition in the nation to focus on this specific lawyering skill. Participating teams must conduct a voir dire in which they question potential jurors, go through the process of striking jurors from the panel, and present an opening statement to the remaining jury pool. This competition is unique because it is judged by attorneys and sitting judges, as well as by volunteer lay people who are selected for the jury panel.

During the preliminary rounds, Washburn Law went 2-1, beating American University Washington College of Law, by a 9-6 score, and Mississippi College School of Law by a decisive 13-2 score. Washburn Law was beaten by Creighton University School of Law by a 6-9 score.

Despite the loss to Creighton, Washburn Law completed the preliminary rounds with the highest score of any team in the tournament. Washburn Law advanced to the semifinal round as the second-seeded team, behind only Texas Tech which, despite being undefeated in the preliminary rounds, was 2 points behind Washburn Law team score.

In the semifinal round, Washburn Law drew the Prosecution side. The prosecution side lost two-thirds of the rounds during the tournament, but in the semifinals, Washburn Law defeated Chapman University Fowler School of Law to advance to the finals.

In the finals, Washburn Law defeated Texas Tech, the 2013 champion and 2015 runner-up.

In addition to the team’s success, one Washburn Law student enjoyed individual achievement as well. Katt was named the best overall advocate, setting an all-time tournament record for the most points won by an individual during the tournament.

The team and coaches presented the trophies to Dean Romig during a special presentation in the Law School's first floor commons on April 14.