For The Record


Richmond Law not only won this year’s John L. Costello National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition — it took second place as well. Twenty-three teams, including two from Richmond, took part in the annual event hosted by George Mason University. Both Richmond teams made it to the final round, along the way outscoring teams from Harvard, the University of Colorado, Texas A&M, and Case Western, among others.

Each year, law schools send three-person teams to prosecute or defend a fictitious criminal case. (This year’s case centered on a defendant accused of robbing and murdering a taco truck driver.) Competition organizers often introduce unexpected developments between rounds, and teams must react. “For example, suddenly the prosecution is given exculpatory evidence,” says Richmond coach Shari Skipper, “and if they don’t turn it over, they lose points.”

A defense team made up of Daniel Lange, L’22, Chris Chavarría, L’22, and Anastasia Mitchell, L’22, took first place in the competition. They defeated their own classmates, a prosecution team consisting of Dylan McAuley, L’22, Danielle Taylor, L’22, and Chris Hale, L’23, in the finals.

Two adjunct professors — Skipper, chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Hanover County, and Nael Abouzaki, senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Henrico County — coach the Richmond teams. They teach Criminal Trial Advocacy in the fall semester, and students are chosen from that class for the competition.

Richmond also won the competition in 2018, but this is the first year that it took both first and second places.