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College of Law Celebrates Ten Years of Summer Trial and the Terry W. Mackey Scholarship

September 8, 2020
summer trial students collage

The College of Law recently completed its annual Summer Trial Institute Program. The Summer Trial Institute is a two-week long, intensive trial advocacy course that teaches students trial skills by practicing in a courtroom while being mentored by leading attorneys and judges from across Wyoming and the region. The course culminates with the students trying a jury trial in front of sitting Wyoming judges who have volunteered to the program, where they receive direct feedback from peers or future employers.

Created in 2010 as the brainchild of former Dean and College of Law Professor Steve Easton, the program gained support from a handful of dedicated trial attorneys, and in partnership with the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and the Wyoming Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).  The inaugural course ran in 2011 with a class of 16 students. The year 2020 marked the 10-year anniversary of the program and has seen enrollment double.

The program has been so popular that it was expanded to run in Alaska as well and has been run three times over the years in Anchorage with local trial attorneys, judges, and the Alaska Youth Court eager to lend a hand. It was slated to run with full class in May for a fourth time before the pandemic hit.

This year, the program was successfully run as an in-person course with 30 students and 58 faculty volunteer practitioners, judges, and court reporters. Students and faculty volunteers alike adhered to the COVID-19 guidelines and the course was incident-free.

The beauty of the course is that it actually simulates the rigor of a two-week jury trial. Students are able to feel the intensity and time commitment it takes to be a litigator, as well as strengthen their adaptability. This year was no exception with students having to expand their reliance on technology, learn how to project through a mask, and to expect the unexpected – just like real attorneys have had to do in the time of COVID-19.

This was a particularly pivotal year for the program. With the departure of Steve Easton, College of Law Professor Lauren McLane took the reins of the program, bringing years of trial experience as a public defender with her. The successful transition further solidified the course as a fundamental, institutional program for the College of Law.

Making the year even more special was the decision to award the Terry W. Mackey Scholarship to a summer trial student.

Terry W. Mackey was an original founder and supporter of the Summer Trial Institute and a fiercely loyal advocate of the College of Law.Terry Mackey

Relying on the daily input from volunteer faculty members, the scholarship is awarded to the student with the most nominations at the end of the two-week period. Each faculty member is asked to nominate the student that they witnessed each day of the program exhibit the qualities that best represent a trial attorney.

The College of Law is pleased to announce the first Terry W. Mackey Scholarship recipient from the Summer Trial Institute Program, Hunter Jones.

Jones is truly one of the most remarkable students ever to cross the threshold of the College of Law. He is the essence of resilience and persistence.

A Native of Cheyenne, Wyo., Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wyoming in 2016. In addition to his law degree, he is concurrently enrolled in the in the Master of Public Administration program and is on track to graduate with both degrees in the spring.

A unique characteristic about Jones is that he has cerebral palsy (CP). While it has posed some challenges for him – particularly with mobility issues, he has found a way to overcome them and has never given up on his dreams or let it stop him from doing what he wants. He wants to be a litigator.

If his experience has taught us anything, it is that he embodies all of the core qualities of a trial attorney, displaying true tenacity, grit, and heart.

Jones was inspired to attend law school after volunteering to be an attorney in a Boy’s State mock trial.

“After the trial, the judge came up to me and said that he was very impressed and that I had what it takes to be a good lawyer,” he says. “That had been in the back of my mind ever since.”

He is drawn to the courtroom in particular because it provides a certain freedom in advocacy – something that is a cornerstone lesson in the Summer Trial Institute. Students are encouraged to find an approach that allows them to be authentic and effective.

“I like the idea that there are no clear right or wrong ways to do it,” adds Jones. “I can have my own unique style, while still helping clients.”

Hunter JonesIn addition to standing out in Summer Trial, Jones has gained valuable practical experience while in law school. He spent the summer working in the District Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne, where he wrote a brief, several motions, and made bond arguments in jail court. He spent the previous summer honing his research skills as an intern at MarkWest in Denver. This fall, he is working in the Prosecution Assistance Clinic at the law school where he will undoubtedly continue to excel.

The summer trial faculty was overwhelmingly impressed by Jones’ performance throughout the program. In fact, going into the final jury trials, it was mathematically impossible for anyone else to win the scholarship.

Deputy District Attorney Caitlin Harper, who worked with Hunter both in the District Attorney’s office as well as in the Summer Trial Institute, comments on his abilities.

“Within several days of Hunter’s internship in the District Attorney’s Office, I knew that he was a born trial attorney. I was taken aback by how quickly he just ‘got it,’ immediately demonstrating skills it takes some attorneys years to learn,” she says. “Hunter knows no limitations and is a fierce advocate for himself. I know that will translate to the courtroom. Those who are Hunter’s adversaries should be prepared to face a formidable opponent.”

Surrounded by his fellow classmates, and with members of the Mackey family zoomed in for the announcement, we learned that Terry Mackey himself had written a letter of support for Jones’ admission to law school. There could be no more appropriate person to receive such a special scholarship.

“It means so much to receive the Mackey Scholarship,” says Hunter. “I knew Terry for a while before law school, and I’m honored to have called him my friend. He helped me get into law school, and he’s helping me again during my last year. I really miss him, and wish I could have worked with him professionally.”

Following law school, Jones hopes to remain in Wyoming and practice law as a prosecuting attorney.

The Summer Trial Institute exemplifies what it means to be an attorney. The age-old skills and traditions of arguing in a courtroom need to continue to thrive in legal education. Wyoming law graduates have come out ahead of the curve because of this incredible program, and they in turn are now passing on their skills and expertise to the next generations of attorneys. We are forever grateful to all of the support and help we have received in keeping this program alive. We humbly ask that our members of the Bar and Bench continue to support this program with their time, expertise, and funds into the future to continue to shape the trial advocates of tomorrow.

We would like to offer a special thanks to this year’s volunteers.

Lauren McLane, University of Wyoming College of Law

President Steve Easton, Dickinson State University

Ewa Dawson, Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, Torts Division

Kris Koski, Of Counsel, Long, Reimer, Winegar, Bepplar LLP, School of Energy Resources

Karen Hinkle, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, United States Air Force

Paul Hickey, Hickey & Evans, LLP

Evynne Fair, Oakmont Law Group, PC

Glenn Fair, Oakmont Law Group, PC

Jason Neville, The Spence Law Firm

Cassie Craven, Longhorn Law LLC

Scott Ortiz, Williams, Porter, Day & Neville, P.C.

Shawna Geiger, The Colorado Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel

Caitlin Harper, Laramie County District Attorney’s Office

David Singleton, Laramie County District Attorney’s Office

Grant Smith, Office of the Federal Public Defender

Isaiah Gross, Robinson, Stelting, Welch, Bramlet LLC

Amanda Hunkins-Newton, Crowley Fleck PLLP

Tracy Hucke, Office of the Federal Public Defender

Kyle Ratliff, Area Defense Counsel, United States Air Force

Darci Phillips, Davis & Cannon, LLP

Gary Shockey, Gary L. Shockey, PC

John Masterson, Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley P.C.

Charlie Abourezk, General Counsel and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board

Bob Rose, Director, Western Trial Advocacy Institute

Christyne Martens, United States Attorney’s Office – District of Wyoming

Rob Shively, Rob Shively, P.C.

Cam Walker, Schwartz, Bon, Walker & Studer, LLC

Melissa Alexander, University of Wyoming College of Law

Jan Davis, Federal Official Court Reporter

Judge Tom Sullins, ret. Wyoming District Court of the Seventh Judicial District

Judge Tori Kricken, Wyoming District Court of the Second Judicial District

Justice Keith Kautz, Wyoming Supreme Court

Judge Marvin Tyler, Wyoming District Court of the

Tom Thompson, MacPherson & Thompson, LLC

Judge Bobbi Overfield, Wyoming District Court of the Fifth Judicial District

Ashley Schluck, Albany County City Attorney’s Office

Judge Thomas Lee, Wyoming Circuit Court of the First Judicial District

Baend Buus, Laramie County District Attorney’s Office

Justice Kate Fox, Wyoming Supreme Court

Devon O’Connell, Pence and MacMillan LLC

Judge Robert Castor, ret., Wyoming Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District

Mandy Good, Crowley Fleck PLLP

Steve Kline, Kline Law Office, PC

Judge Alan Johnson, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Marci Crank Bramlet, Robinson, Stelting, Welch, Bramlet LLC

Cole Sherard, Pence and MacMillan LLC

Frank Bellinghiere, Bellinghiere Law Offices

Walter Eggers, Holland & Hart LLP

Becky Farley, Albany County Prosecutor’s Office

Judge Dona Playton, Albany County Municipal Court

Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Chief Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Magistrate Judge Mark Carman, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Judge Thomas Rumpke, Wyoming District Court of the Sixth Judicial District

Brianne Phillips, Staff Attorney for the Hon. Catherine R. Rogers

Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, Wyoming Supreme Court

Judge Robert Sanford, Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District of Wyoming

Eric Limegrover, Cordell & Cordell, P.C.

Joel Defebaugh, Albany County Prosecutors Office

Charles Nye, School of Energy Resources

And a huge thank you to the ACTL and ABOTA for the their financial contribution to the program.

Contact Us

College of Law

1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3035

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-6416

Fax: 307-766-6417

Email: lawadmis@uwyo.edu

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