SWLAW Blog | Faculty Features

Image - TAHP Wins CACJ 2019

October 30, 2019

TAHP Emerges as National Champions! (San Francisco, CA)

Congratulations to Jared Timmons, Virginia Wong, Brandon Salumbides, Negin Rashidi, Catherine Knapp, Levon Derkalousdian, Andrew Figueras, and Amanda Coombe on competing in the 2019 California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition on October 24th to October 27th in San Francisco, CA.

What a BIG WIN for Southwestern, as our two TAHP teams placed in the top eight as quarter-finalists, and one of the teams, comprised of Jared Timmons, Virginia Wong, Brandon Salumbides, and Negin Rashidi, brought home the gold, winning as National Champions! The icing on the cake was Brandon Salumbides winning Best Advocate!

Image - Brandon Salumbides Best Advocate"This win and award is a culmination of many factors: my teammates' skills, all of our TAHP competitors' hard work, our coaches' dedication, and our professors' guidance. I am honored to be a part of such a special team and participate in adding to the legacy of Southwestern TAHP."

- Brandon Salumbides, Best Advocate

The CACJ created and hosts the National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition each year to stimulate student interest in developing trial and advocacy skills in criminal law and to encourage law schools to teach trial advocacy skills. Students from the best trial advocacy programs in the nation are invited to compete and be judged by federal and state judges, as well as some of the most skilled criminal trial lawyers in California.

Image - Southwestern TAHP Team One
(L to R) Jared Timmons, Virginia Wong, Negin Rashidi, Brandon Salumbides

Southwestern sent two teams to compete this year. Out of the 22 teams at the competition, both Southwestern teams went undefeated in the preliminary and impressed the judges.

The team comprised of Jared Timmons, Virginia Wong, Brandon Salumbides, and Negin Rashidi defeated last year’s finalist, Arizona State, and teams from the University of Connecticut and Cal Western to come out on top as the national champion. They were coached by Doug Baek, Michael Morse, Anastasia Sagorsky, and Melissa Romo.

3L TAHP-er Virginia Wong commented on the significance of this win for the team. 

"The competition this year was personal because Jared, Brandon, and I also competed last year as a team and did not advance, so I was determined to return and take home the title this year. I am proud to say that goal was accomplished. This championship title came from hard work and dedication, but it would not have been possible without the support of Southwestern and the Trial Advocacy Honors Program!  I am incredibly humbled by the opportunity to work alongside my talented teammates, get mentored by my brilliant coaches, and of course, learn from Professor Esposito and Professor Seki – true legends in the courtroom."

Image - TAHP wins Nationals at CACJ Competition
The excitement in the room was palpable as Southwestern's team was named National Champions!
Image - 2nd TAHP Team at CACJ Competition
(L to R) Jeremy Davis, Catherine Knapp, Levon Derkalousdian, Amanda Coombe, Andrew Figueras, Negin Mostadim

The second Southwestern team of Catherine Knapp, Levon Derkalousdian, Andrew Figueras, and Amanda Coombe went head to head against Pepperdine and tournament host UC Hastings in the preliminary rounds. The team was the 2nd seed going into their quarterfinals. They had an intense and incredibly close round against a second Pepperdine team and lost by only ONE point overall. Their coaches were Jeremy Davis, Negin Mostadim, Esther Kim, and Michelle Lewis.

Please join us in congratulating all the advocates and the coaches for their incredible work! We are so proud of our Trial Advocacy Honors Program teams and their accomplishments!