If there's an advocacy topic you want to see discussed, or about which you wish to contribute, contact one of the blog administrators - see the list on the right side of this page. Lonely thinking changes nothing, sharing your thoughts may start a trend.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Turning the Tables: Advocacy Students Reflect on Serving as Witnesses and Jurors

The last assignment of every semester in my basic trial advocacy course is a self-analysis memorandum in which the students analyze their performances in the final jury trial of the semester and reflect on their growth throughout the semester. I always enjoy reading these assignments. For my purposes, they are superior to the course evaluation survey instrument the law school uses. When I read what the students have to say about their own personal experiences during the semester, I learn how well they understood the pedagogical objectives of the course, what lessons they learned as advocates, and how they plan to continue improving throughout their careers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Registration Open for 2015-2016 National Health Law Moot Court Competition

I'm posting this on behalf of my colleague Cheryl Anderson, who directs our moot court programs at SIU School of Law. This is a great competition. If your school hasn't sent a team to this, you should apply. The problems are always excellent, and the level of competition is superb. Plus, Carbondale is a nice place in the fall.

The American College of Legal Medicine, the Southern Illinois University School of Law, and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Department of Medical Humanities will once again jointly sponsor the 2015-2016 National Health Law Moot Court Competition.  The Competition, our twenty-fourth, will be held on November 6 and 7, 2015 at the Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale, Illinois.  With the support of the American College of Legal Medicine, as in past years, several scholarship grants will be awarded.  We have been extremely pleased with the Competition over the last several years and look forward to an even better competition in 2015-2016.

On-line registration for the competition is now open at this link: http://law.siu.edu/academics/center-programs/health-law-policy/health-competition.html.  Local hotel and location information will be posted at a later date.  We would appreciate it if you would forward this email to the appropriate person at your school for their information.  You can also watch for the brochure which will be mailed soon.

If you have any questions, please send them to mootct@siu.edu or you may call our Moot Court Board Assistant, Kristy White, at 618/453.8299 or email her at kristyw@siu.edu.

We hope to see a team from your school at the Competition in November.

Cheryl Anderson
Director of Moot Court Programs
Southern Illinois University
School of Law, M/C 6804                                      
1150 Douglas Drive                                      
Carbondale, IL  62901

Monday, May 25, 2015


1.       We are fortunate to have a place where coaches from all over the country can come together and break bread. The closer we are, the better likelihood that we can work things out on the road when we are in the heat of battle. It provides perspective and a reminder that we are all in this business to help train others. That is a mighty responsibility. We are fortunate that Charlie Rose and Stetson provides the space for us to engage with each other. A special thanks to Peggy Gordon and the folks behind the scenes that make things happens.

2.       I mentioned that Joe Lester shared with me the web site created by Jeff Brooks down at LSU for all Mock Trial Tourneys around the country. Here is the website again. I am sure Jeff would be happy to get any updates to help keep the list fresh.  Thanks Jeff for putting this together.

See you all on the road. I miss you already.

--A.J. Bellido de Luna

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015 EATS Retrospective

This morning, I said goodbye to a group of old and new advocacy teaching friends on the patio of the Rum Runner bar on St. Pete beach at 3:30 am, slept a few fitful hours, woke up, packed, and left Gulfport and Stetson behind me for another year. I'm tired--as a middle-aged man, late nights exact a harsher toll than they did when I was younger--but I can sleep on the plane or when I get back to Illinois. The conversations, companionship, and camaraderie were well worth the price of temporary sleep deprivation.

In his concluding remarks to the 2015 Educating Advocates/Teaching Skills Conference, Charlie Rose talked about how the conference had recharged his depleted set of mental and emotional batteries. I am reasonably confident his sentiments were shared by most attendees, but I am 100% certain that he spoke for me. The phenomenon occurs every year at the conference as we listen to gifted teachers and advocates share the science and art of teaching others what it means to be an advocate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Judge Robert McGahey of Denver submitted the following guest post:

I've subscribed to The New Yorker for years and read it cover-to-cover when I get it. The articles that are directly about the law and the legal process are frequently insightful and thought-provoking, especially those by Jeffrey Toobin.  But every now and then there's an article that's not directly related to the law that has application to advocacy or advocacy teaching.  I'd like to call your attention to two such recent articles.

In the March 9, 2015 issue there's an article titled "Frame of Reference", written by the inimitable John McPhee, one of my favorite authors.  McPhee writes on a myriad of subjects and his economical but stylish writing is always a treat.  This article discuss the fact that different people understand – or don't understand -- what someone is talking  or writing about depending on the listener's  or reader's frame of reference.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Judge Robert McGahey submitted the following post:

About ten days back, Chris posted a very thoughtful piece (link here) which was inspired by an article in Politico. I read that article and would offer these comments as both a judge and a teacher.

In addition to teaching Trial Advocacy courses, I also helm the Judicial Externship Seminar at DU Law School.  Per the ABA, every judicial externship requires an academic component, and that's my task.  I try to focus on issues that aren't always talked about in law school and the last class session always focuses on the how judges are selected, and the influence of politics and money on judicial decisions. I tell the students that the class is about the value of an independent judiciary in a free society – and I have them watch Judgment at Nuremberg to see how perverted a justice system can become. Knowing that some students will poo-poo the movie with "it can't happen here," I assign as extra reading articles like the one in Politico, as well as cases like Caperton v. Massey.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

If Justice is for Sale, Does Advocacy Even Matter?

I had an interesting telephone conversation with my good friend Joshua Karton a couple of days ago. He wanted to know whether I thought online advocacy classes would push budding advocates further away from the human connection in the courtroom that is such a vital component of the trial advocate's art. He spoke of the relentless forces that already hinder access to courtrooms and wondered whether technology is becoming yet another barrier to justice for the poor and the powerless.

Last summer, I taught an online advocacy course. I intend to write more about that experience in an upcoming blog post. In the meantime, I must admit that my conversation with Joshua caused me to take a mental step back and try to see the big picture of the adversary trial system and identify the forces that might interfere with the search for truth and justice. 

This afternoon, I read an article in Politico Magazine online that gave me pause. In the article, I Was Alabama's Top Judge. I'm Ashamed by What I Had to Do to Get There: How Money is Ruining America's Courts. Sue Bell Cobb, a former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court writes about the corrupting influence of campaign donations on the justice system. She asks a provocative question: "How do we convince Americans that justice isn't for sale--when in 39 states, it is?"