MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University law student David Stackpole succeeded in trimming a few years off a fictitious mobster's manslaughter sentence, earning the law school's annual Baker Cup moot court competition.
Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals awarded Stackpole the cup March 11, after he argued against law student Brian McAllister.
Second-year law students compete for the cup each year. The Justices hear the final argument on their annual visit to the College of Law.
Stackpole is a United Methodist pastor and father of two sons. He will work at the firm of Martin and Seibert this summer.
McAllister will work this summer in the Clarksburg office of West Virginia Public Defender Services.
With the cup, Stackpole earned a $500 prize. McAllister received $350.
Justice Joseph Albright said the decision was close. "Maybe we should have sent you out in the hall and had a fist fight," he joked.
The Court judged the competition after hearing four real cases in a morning session of oral arguments.
The Justices relaxed for the students more than they do in hearings at the Capitol.
In a case where a woman executed a will without legal advice, Chief Justice Spike Maynard said, "you can pay lawyers now or pay them later."
In a case about residential development on a property called Far Away Farms, Justice Larry Starcher said, "You're turning Far Away Farms into Far Away Homes."
In a cemetery case, attorney Neal Hamilton said the first governor of West Virginia was buried there. Starcher said Albright would want to know when they dug him up and moved him from Parkersburg.
Albright, of Parkersburg, said he didn't believe that happened.
Hamilton poked fun at himself, apologizing and saying he majored in history.
Albright said, "You missed the chapter on West Virginia."
In a case where a prosecutor quoted the Bible to jurors, Maynard said, "You may not have all Baptists on the jury. You might have a couple of drinking men on the jury."
Justice Robin Davis didn't say much, clever or otherwise. She coughed all morning and in the afternoon told the students she had a sore throat.
She said the Court was very impressed with the professionalism of the students.
"The number of coats and ties has not gone unnoticed," she said.