Four members of the Rutgers Law School Moot Court Board’s National Trial Team earned a position in the semi-final rounds of the Queens District Attorney’s Invitational Mock Trial Competition.
Matthew Capone, Christa McLeod, Melissa Taustine, and Steven Tegrar, all 3Ls, competed in preliminary rounds Saturday, October 14, winning both rounds and earning a spot in the semi-final round that was held Sunday, October 15. Mcleod and Tegrar, representing the prosecution, defeated Louisana State University Law School's team and Capone and Taustine, representing the defense, defeated Boston University's team.
Only six teams advanced to the finals from a field of 16. By advancing the team bested 10 highly competitive teams including Temple Law, Fordham, and Brooklyn Law.
In the highly competitive semi-final round, the Rutgers team faced St. Johns University Law School's team. They performed exceptionally, but were not one of the two teams of the six semi-finalists advanced to the final round.
The Queens DA Competition is an annual competition between nationally and regionally selected teams invited to compete based upon their record. As such, it is a competition among some of the most competitive trial teams in the country. This is the first year Rutgers Law School has been invited. The competition involves conducting a full trial of a murder case before sitting judges in Queens County. The case is tried before a jury under New York Evidence Law and procedure.
Eight members of the team, Immanuel Adeola, Jessenia Caquis, Matthew Capone, Christine McGinnis, Christa McLeod, Bailey Ott,Melissa Taustine, and Steven Tegrar will compete in November in the American Bar Association National Mock Trial Competition Regionals in New York. The team competed in this competition for the first time last year and won first place and went on to finish as semi-finalists in the National final rounds.
“Our team made a phenomenal showing in their rounds this weekend and by being invited to compete for the first time this year, as well as finishing as semi-finalists, have again significantly raised Rutgers Law's national profile for mock trial competitions,” said Associate Dean Andrew Rossner, who coaches the team. “It was a great start to the team's 2017-2018 season and is yet another by-product 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 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 program also receives wonderful support for members of the bar. Many thanks to Rutherford Livengoode, a former prosecutor in Essex County, who spent countless hours mentoring the team on trying a murder case. ”