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California Western Students Finish First and Second in District Attorney Trial Competition

Third-year students Mary Naoom and Melissa M. Mack

For the second year in a row, a Distinguished Advocate from a California Western Moot Court Honors Board trial team has won the George Bennett Closing Argument Tournament, competing with more than 30 other interns who work at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Third-year California Western student Mary Naoom won the competition and third-year student Melissa M. Mack—who like Naoom is an intern in the district attorney’s office—finished second in the prestigious competition. Both finished ahead of fellow interns who come from law schools across the nation.

The finals were held in the courtroom of San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge David Danielsen, where the two finalists each gave a closing argument followed by a defense closing given by a deputy district attorney. Then, the Naoom and Mack, who were competing with each other, each gave rebuttal arguments.

“Mary and Melissa accomplished a wonderful feat,” said California Western Professor Mario G. Conte, faculty advisor to the Moot Court Honors Board. “That they competed and won against student interns from law schools all over the country is truly remarkable and also emblematic of all the Distinguished Advocates in our program.”

“I am truly grateful to be afforded the opportunity to compete against other interns at the District Attorney's office,” said Naoom. “It was fun, thrilling, and exciting all at once. I could not have received this honor without the skills that I developed as a trial team competitor for California Western School of Law. All of my coaches on trial team were either public defenders or deputy district attorneys and because of that, they truly prepared me for the ‘real world.’”

“I am very excited and humbled to be a finalist at the competition,” said Mack. “The skills and techniques I learned through our trial team program are invaluable and reflect the amazing job California Western does at teaching students the practical skills for real life experiences.“

California Western’s Clayton Carr ‘13, a Distinguished Advocate graduate, won the competition last year.

For tournament winner Naoom, the victory could be a boost to her career.

“This honor means the world to me! I'm happy to continue the California Western tradition of winning this competition,” said Naoom. “I am truly honored to continue my dream of becoming a prosecutor for the San Diego District Attorney's Office.”