The Osgoode team of third-year students Karin McCaig and Donna Polgar has won the Sopinka Cup national trial advocacy competition, which took place on March 16 and 17 in Ottawa.
In addition, McCaig won the award for the Best Opening Statement and Polgar won Best All-Around Advocate.
Right: Sopinka Cup champions, from left: Jonathan Rosenthal (coach); Karin McCaig; Donna Polgar; Moiz Rahman (coach)
It is the first time Osgoode has won the Sopinka Cup and the win represents the law school’s fourth first-place finish in a major mooting competition this year, which is shaping up to be its best ever for mooting victories. Other Osgoode wins in 2007 include the Gale, Wilson and Arnup moots. (See the March 9 issue of YFile.)
McCaig and Polgar, who defeated a team from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law to win the Sopinka Cup, argued the same case as they did in the Arnup Moot. The case concerned a bar owner who was charged with manslaughter after punching a rowdy patron in the head. The patron had an arterial malformation that ruptured when he was punched.
The Osgoode team represented the Crown in the Arnup Moot but was forced to switch hats for the Sopinka competition, which began with eight teams, all of whom had advanced through the regional competitions. "The mental shift to develop a passionate defence for someone that we had so thoroughly prosecuted was one of the most challenging aspects of this competition," said Polgar.
As in the Arnup Moot, the Osgoode team was coached for the Sopinka competition by Sandra Barton of Heenan Blaikie LLP; Jonathan Rosenthal (LLB ’87), a Toronto criminal defence lawyer who has his own practice; and Moiz Rahman (LLB ’96) of the Department of Justice. They are all adjunct professors in Osgoode Professor Garry Watson’s Trial Practice course.
In addition to their Sopinka awards, McCaig and Polgar will also be recognized by the American College of Trial Lawyers at their annual meeting in Denver, Colo., this October. The American College of Trial Lawyers sponsors the Sopinka Cup, which was established to honour the memory of the late John Sopinka, justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who was a long-standing and devoted Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.