The Moot Court Board National Trial Team completed a full and successful 2017-2018 season in March, earning the second seeded position in the quarterfinal round in the ABA/John Marshall Law School National Criminal Justice Trial Competition at the Federal Court House in Chicago. This follows the team’s finish as semi-finalists in the ABA National Trial Competition New York Regional Competition in November and as semi-finalists in the Queens DA Invitational Mock Trial Competition in October.
In early March, national team members Immanuel Adeola ‘18, Matthew Capone ‘18, Melissa Taustine ‘18 and Steve Tegrar ‘18 competed in preliminary rounds against Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law and Loyola University Chicago School of Law, winning both preliminary rounds. Rutgers was 2nd seeded among the eight teams that advanced to the quarterfinal round, besting all but one other school in the competition. The Rutgers team earned a higher seed in the quarterfinals than Brooklyn, Fordham, American University Washington, and University of Florida Law Schools. Georgetown Law, University of California Berkeley Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law and William and Mary Law School competed in the preliminary rounds, but did not advance. The Rutgers team performed well, but was edged out by Fordham Law in a tough quarterfinal round.
The competition required the team to try both sides of criminal case involving an attempt to detonate an explosive device near a federal facility in an effort to send a terrorist message. Undercover Federal agents were involved in the planning of the attack, which was foiled before an explosion took place. The defendant alleged entrapment.
This year is the first time Rutgers Law was invited to the National Criminal Justice Trial Competition. The team was invited based upon its success the last two years.
In another first, the team competed in October 2017 in the Queens District Attorney’s Invitational Mock Trial Competition, finishing as semifinalists. The Queens DA Competition is an annual invitational competition between nationally and regionally selected teams chosen based upon their records. Capone, Taustine, Tegrar, and Christa Mcleod ’18 made up one of six teams in a field of 16 to advance to the semifinal round. This was the first time Rutgers Law was invited to this competition.
In November 2017, the National Team also earned a semifinalist position in the New York Regionals of the ABA National Mock Trial competition at the Federal Court House in Manhattan. The team of Jessenia Caquias ‘19, Bailey Ott ‘19, McLeod and Christina McGinnis ‘19 earned one of four spots in the semifinal round out of a field of 16 teams. The team lost to Harvard Law, who went on to win the competition.
“Our national trial team members have done an exemplary job of honing their skills and competing at an extraordinarily high level. Their successes against the most competitive schools in the most competitive competitions speaks well of their dedication, talent and teamwork,” 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 sustained successes this year and last are a direct result of our program enhancements which provides intensive instruction and opportunities to compete to students committed to developing as trial lawyers. 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.”
“We also owe a debt of gratitude to alumni and members of the bar who have assisted in coaching and preparing the team, including Samantha McCluskey and Maria McKee, National Trial Team alumni, as well as Rutherford Livengood, Brian Curley and Brian Neary."