BLSA Thurgood Marshall Trial Team heads to nationals

Junior Dufort ’23 won Best Advocate at the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition. 

Members of the Maryland Carey Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Thurgood Marshall Trial Team took third place at the National Black Law Students Association Mid-Atlantic Region’s Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition this month. Team member Junior Dufort ’23 was honored as Best Advocate. 

The win qualifies the team to go on to nationals, in which they will compete against the top three teams from each of the six regional matchups. The national competition will take place at the national BLSA convention March 16-30. 

This year’s team includes Jordan Danso ’22, Junior Dufort ’23, David Karpay ’23, Samuel Kebede ’23, Tayler Littlejohn ’23, Tamia Morris ’23, Wesley Payne ’23, and Robert Velazquez ’23.  

The competitors went up against teams from regional law schools including Georgetown, Penn State, and Washington and Lee. Advocates were evaluated on their overall courtroom presence, command of the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, teamwork, and timeliness and accuracy of objections. Each trial lasted approximately three and a half hours and simulated a criminal trial proceeding with opening statements, direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and closing arguments. 

Best Advocate Junior Dufort ’23 is exploring a career in criminal defense and appreciates the experience he is getting on the team. “Being part of the Thurgood Marshall Trial Team has contributed largely to the development of my trial advocacy skills,” said the 2L, adding, “I am only as talented as my teammates and there is no way I would be awarded the Best Advocate award without their constant support and help.” 

In its 13th year, the Maryland Carey Law Thurgood Marshall Trial Team is coached by Derrick Milburn ’13, an attorney at the Department of Homeland Security and former team member. Coaching assistants are Sakkara Turpin ’14, Venable, LLP; Trevonne Walford ’15, Kahn, Smith, & Collins, PA; Meryl Seidel ’19, Salsbury Sullivan, LLC; and Emelia Hall, Mullins, Riley, & Scarborough, LLP. 

“I am proud of each student’s growth, passion, and willingness to work hard to achieve the goals that we set on the first day of practice,” said Milburn, “and grateful to the faculty, BLSA alumni, fellow students, and members of the bar who graciously volunteered their time and efforts to support our students.” 

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