The Rutgers Law School Moot Court Board’s National Trial Team completed a successful 2016-2017 season that included winning the ABA’s New York Regional Mock Trial Competition and earning a place in the final rounds of the ABA National Mock Trial Competition in New Orleans, Louisiana in late January. Four of the National Team members, Immanuel Adeola ‘18, Matthew Capone ‘18, Melissa Taustine ‘18, and Steven Tegrar ’18, competed in the National Final Rounds, after winning preliminary rounds and earning the second-seeded spot in the semifinal round of four teams, besting all but one other school in the competition in the preliminary round scores. The competition took place at the Federal Court House in New Orleans.
“The Rutgers team made a phenomenal showing in the competition and has raised Rutgers Law's national profile for mock trial competitions,” said Dean Andrew Rossner, who coaches the team and supervises Rutgers Law School’s Moot Court program. “This is not only a wonderful achievement for the team and the individual team members, it is a dividend to the Law School of the reorganization and enhancement of the Moot Court Board and trial advocacy programs at the Law School over the past few years. The program now provides rigorous and effective trial advocacy training incorporating classes in evidence and trial advocacy with comprehensive and individualized instruction and skills training for National Mock Trial Team members.”
The ABA National Mock Trial Competition problem was a civil case involving an allegation of a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled war veteran.
The team defeated the teams from Emory Law, one of last year's finalists in the competition, and University of California Hastings, last year's Competition Champions, but the team was edged out in the semifinal round by William and Mary.
“It was a very exciting trip. The teams we competed against were both polished and intelligent, resulting in a challenging competition. I am extremely proud of my team for working so hard and putting in the amount of time that it takes to prepare for a competition of this caliber,” said Tegrar. “We were newcomers to the ABA National Competition, which only served as an inspiration to our team to represent Rutgers to the best of our abilities. Our team is very grateful to Dean Rossner for taking the time to travel to New Orleans with us and support us the entire way. I believe we did so well because we enjoyed every minute of thinking on our feet in front of a jury and having to quickly respond to unexpected situations. Hopefully, we will return to Nationals next year, this time taking first place.”
The team advanced to the National Final Rounds by winning the New York Regional Competition Title in November, having defeated 15 other regional teams, including Fordham Law and Brooklyn Law
Fresh off their success in New Orleans, the full National Trial Team competed in the Regionals of the Texas Bar Association National Trial Competition in Philadelphia in February. Moot Court Board co-chairs and team members, Maria McKee ‘17 and Nathania Reyes ‘17, also competed.
The competition in Philadelphia revolved around the prosecution of a defendant for possession and intent to distribute heroin and the defense case drew on an entrapment/mental incapacity defense. Two teams of Rutgers students competed in the contest. Team one included Adeola, Taustine and Tegrar. Team two was made up of Capone, Maria McKee ‘17 and Nathania Reyes ‘17.
The teams conducted trials in the criminal drug case and tried both sides in successive rounds. This competition brought together some of the best teams in the nation, including teams from Temple Law and Drexel Law, both of whom have been consistent winners of the regional and national rounds. Rutgers students defeated teams from University of Pennsylvania, Duquesne Law and Widener-Harrisburg, but were edged out in the power paired round.
"I hope our performance at the last two competitions has encouraged more students to try out for the team, and encouraged the administration to support the program going forward,” said Capone.