Delaware students Morrison Fairbairn and David Wenger won the 22nd Annual Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition
held on April 12, 2011 on the Delaware Campus, defeating the Harrisburg team of Karin Judge and Katie Pilgren.
For the purposes of the competition, the Delaware team represented plantiff Tracey Wise, who was injured in a fire at Sassy’s Club, owned by Chris Jensen. The Harrisburg team defended Jensen against a negligence suit brought by Wise that blamed the club owner for her injuries. The Delaware team argued that club owner, Chris Jensen, was just “too busy” to protect his patrons, which caused the injury. The Harrisburg team pointed the finger at the band that played at Sassy’s that night, suggesting that the band had “too much pride” to not use pyrotechnic devices in their show at Sassy’s Club.
The Honorable Patricia Richmond, Superior Court Judge in New Jersey, presided over the final round. Judge Richmond said that the competition was close and the advocates were better than many she has seen before her in court. In the end, the closing arguments tipped the scale in favor of the Delaware team on behalf of the plantiff.
The Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition is named in honor of former Widener Law student Hugh Bryan Pearce. He enrolled at Widener Law in August of 1987 and maintained a full course schedule while serving as a helicopter pilot with the Delaware National Guard. On June 17th, 1989 while performing maneuvers with the National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer Hugh B. Pearce and five others lost their lives when the UH-1 Iroquois they were flying crashed in dense fog shortly after midnight near Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
In the wake of Hugh’s death, Professor Thomas Reed
and John Wherry, Esquire, at the time an adjunct faculty member directing the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, created a competition between the two best advocates in ITAP and the two best advocates from Professor Reed’s Advocacy concentration course. They named the competition in honor of Hugh, who Professor Reed called “an especially gifted student with a flair for advocacy.” The competition later evolved into a trial advocacy competition pitting a team of advocates selected from the Delaware campus by the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honor Society against a team from the Harrisburg campus selected by their Trial Advocacy Honor Society.
The Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honor Society is extremely proud of this year’s winners, David Wenger and Morrison Fairbairn. Thank you to all the competitors in this year’s Hugh B. Pearce Competition and the judges, faculty and board members who helped make it a success!