Stetson BLSA competition teams place in top 3 in national contests

The Stetson BLSA Trial Team and Dispute Resolution Team with their coaches.
The Stetson BLSA Trial Team and Dispute Resolution Team members with their coaches. From left: Whitany Lewis, Abigail Dean, Emeraude Lerebours, Professor James Sheehan, Coach Justin Scott, Noel Gonzalez, Jasmine Mattear, and Conklin Howard.

Stetson Law’s BLSA Trial Team and Dispute Resolution Team extended the long green line of Stetson success with second and third places, respectively, in competitions at the 52nd National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 6-8, 2020.

The Trial Team placed second overall out of 17 teams in the Constance Baker Motley (CBM) Mock Trial Competition, missing the title by a single point. The Dispute Resolution placed third out of 12 teams in the Nelson Mandela International (NMI) Negotiation Competition. The NBLSA hosts three competitions during the convention, and Stetson was the only school to place in the top 3 in more than one contest.

BLSA Trial Team
Noel Gonzalez, Emeraude Lerebours, Coach and alumnus Justin Scott, Jasmine Mattear, and Conklin Howard placed second in the trial team competition.

The students had to overcome some distinct hurdles: All of the team members were competition rookies; though Stetson BLSA teams have attended the CBM Trial Competition in the past, they made never made it to Nationals; and this was the first time Stetson BLSA competed in the NMI Negotiation Competition.

Trial Team members were Noel Gonzalez, Emeraude Lerebours, Jasmine Mattear, and Conklin Howard. Dispute Resolution Team members were Abigail Dean and Whitany Lewis. Stetson Alumnus Justin Scott and Professor James Sheehan served as coaches.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to coach this talented group of advocates – it makes coaching easy! None of this would have been possible without the vision and dedication of BLSA President Forest Sutton and the unrelenting support and dedication of Professor Julia Metts and the Advocacy Center,” Scott said.

BLSA Dispute Resolution Team
Stetson BLSA Dispute Resolution team Whitany Lewis and Abigail Dean took third at nationals.

It was Sutton, a veteran of Stetson’s Trial and Dispute Resolution teams, who sought to revive a Stetson BLSA contingent of competition teams, said Julia Metts, director of trial programs. 

“I couldn’t have been more excited to help,” Metts said. “I knew we could do great things, but I had no idea that the team would make it to Nationals in their first competition. And then be a finalist at Nationals!”

“Great things are possible when we give students, who have the courage to dream, the support to accomplish those dreams,” she continued. “Forest and the BLSA board organized tryouts, found a coach, supported the team during practices, and helped make this moment possible.”

Sutton, for his part, was just as pleased with the teams’ results this year and believes future students can build on the momentum.

“I couldn’t be more proud of each competitor who dedicated so much time and effort into developing their advocacy skills, but also representing BLSA at a national competition,” Sutton said. “To have gone out and made Stetson’s name known in a brand new setting is simply remarkable. Additionally, the support BLSA received from other students, faculty members, and alumna Brielle Tucker makes me optimistic about the success BLSA can build upon in the coming years.”