Fresh from regional win, Akron Law team hopes to bring home national title


The Akron Law mock trial team of Joe Darwal, Justin Workman, Elizabeth Emanuel and C. Adam Carro is headed to the American Association for Justice’s Student Trial Advocacy Competition this month to vie with advocates from 13 other regions across the United States. With a win, the team could bring home the School of Law’s ninth national title.

To qualify, the team had to emerge victorious from a field of 16 teams at the organization’s regional mock trial competition in late March in Cleveland. After besting teams from Case Western, Michigan State, Cleveland State, Thomas Cooley, University of Cincinnati, Capital University and the University of Toledo, it came down to just two teams for the final round — both from Akron Law.


2014 Mock Trial Team

Headed to Santa Monica are members of the School of Law's winning mock trial team are, from left, Elizabeth Emanuel, Joe Darwal, Justin Workman, and C. Adam Carro. Pictured with them is Judge Robert McClelland.

With state court Judge Robert McClelland presiding, the teams faced off, presented strong cases and scored nearly perfectly on all judges’ ballots. In the end, it was the team led by Darwal and Workman as advocates and Emanuel and Carro as witnesses, that edged out Lavell Payne and Ben Sorber, along with their witnesses Dakota Fox and Elayna Saad, for the top spot.

“We were elated to have won,” says Workman, adding that preparation for the regional competition began over the winter break. “We were provided with a fact pattern for the trial, which consisted of the rules, complaint, answer, depositions, exhibits and jury instructions.

Planning and hard work rewarded

“The American Association of Justice's mock trial cases are always civil cases and tend to deal with products liability, personal injury, or medical malpractice/negligence issues,” adds Workman. “Teams are judged on their skills in case preparation, opening statements, use of facts, the examination of lay and expert witnesses, and closing arguments.”

And each team of two advocates and two witnesses has to be equally prepared to represent the plaintiff and the defense throughout the rounds of the competition. For that, Workman gives credit to his teammates and their coaches — Akron Law graduates Larry Sutter and Kevin Kita with the law firm of Sutter O’Connell, and Tony Wise, with the Stark County Public Defender’s Office.

"We are exceptionally proud of our students, whose hard work and dedication continue the winning tradition of Akron Law's nationally-recognized trial teams,” says Elizabeth Reilly, interim dean. “We are fortunate to have the excellent alumni coaches who prepare our students every year for success — not only in competitions, but in their future service to the clients who will depend upon them."

The American Association for Justice’s national Student Trial Advocacy Competition will be held April 10-13 in Santa Monica, Calif.

Media contact: Sarah Lane, 330-972-7429 or