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Lewis and Clark Expedition Incident Focus of Mock Trial at UW March 27

March 16, 2018
Kelly Rankin, Kyle Ridgeway, Dona Playton and Jessica Martz

The University of Wyoming College of Law will host the fourth annual Spence Law Firm Historic Trial Tuesday, March 27, at 6 p.m. in the College of Law Large Moot Court Room.

This year’s mock trial will put Capt. Meriwether Lewis and his expedition subordinate, Private Silas Goodrich, on trial for the theft of a canoe from the Clatsop Tribe during the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The College of Law, in collaboration with the Spence Law Firm, created the annual historical trial as a fun and interesting way to learn about important historical events through a legal lens, while also providing law students a way to simulate a trial of a high-profile case.

The Spence Law Firm Historic Trial is a fictional mock trial that is created from the facts of a chronicled historic event. Previous trials have included putting John Wilkes Booth on trial for the assassination of President Lincoln, trying Wyoming Gov. Amos Barber for his involvement in the Johnson County Cattle War, and a civil libel case revolving around the “no-no boys” at the Japanese-American internment camp at Heart Mountain during World War II.

The cast of this year’s trial once again will be filled with standout UW law students, alumni and professors, as well as prominent figures from around the state.

Presiding over the trial will be Laramie Municipal Judge and College of Law Professor Dona Playton (B.S. ’89, J.D. ’93). Representing the United States will be U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Wyoming Kelly Rankin (B.S. ’90, J.D. ’94), along with third-year law student Andrea Sobel, of Englewood, Colo.

For the defense, attorney Kyle Ridgeway (J.D. ’12) of the Casper law firm Williams, Porter, Day and Neville will work with UW law student Alexandra Disque, of Byron, Minn., to represent Capt. Lewis, while U.S. Marine Corps JAG officer Major Jessica Martz (J.D. ’11) will work with third-year law student Noah Grovenstein, of Powell, to represent Private Goodrich.

Keeping in the spirit of the event, the cast will be in full costume and will try to be as historically accurate as possible. The trial itself will utilize modern legal rules, procedures and technology, but is a fun application of the law in a historical context.

The mock trial is free and open to the public. An overflow room with a live stream of the trial will be provided in the event of high occupancy. Refreshments will be provided at the break.

For further information, email Christine Reed at the College of Law

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