CWRU’s Black Law Student Association (BLSA) Mock Trial team was victorious in the Midwest Regional Rounds of the prestigious Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition Feb. 3–5, which was held online.  

After competing in five rounds of competition over three days, the CWRU team came in first out of 37 schools and earned the right to represent the Midwest Region March 3–7 at the 53rd annual National Mock Trial Competition, which also will be held online. The victorious team consisted of Shalanda Plowden (3L), Makela Hayford (2L), Sally Enoh (2L) and Nadia Haile (2L).

Screenshot of a meeting with four members of the BLSA mock trial team

Hayford earned the award for best advocate among all competitors in the competition. Hayford also is president of the CWRU Chapter of the Black Law Students Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The prestigious Mock Trial competition is named for Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman appointed to the U.S. federal bench. This year’s competition problem was a civil case involving alleged negligent wrongful death against a self-driving car manufacturer. Rounds simulate a civil trial proceeding where each team offers opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses, and closing arguments. Advocates are evaluated on their overall courtroom presence, command of the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, teamwork, and accuracy of objections.

“Congratulations to this year’s BLSA team on winning the regional Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition, which continues a remarkable record of success by our BLSA teams in regional and national competitions,” Co-Dean Michael Scharf said. “We are extremely proud of our students and their dedicated coaches.”

This year’s team was coached by McClellon Cox, BLSA Mock Trial alum and current Ulmer & Berne associate, and Ike Ekeke, a fellow in the law school’s Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic. In 2019, Cox was on the CWRU team (coached by Ekeke) that took third place in the National BLSA Mock Trial Competition.