June 26, 2019 | 87° F

U. mock trial team prepares for national tournament

Team places third in last week’s invitational, beats Ivies

Photo by Zaniah Maynor |

Dhruv Patel, a member of the Rutgers Mock Trial Team, listens at practice. The team will compete at a regional tournament at Penn State University on Feb. 9 and 10. The team hopes to reach the national tournament for the second time in its history.

When Gregory Cui joined the Rutgers Mock Trial team in 2010 as a first-year student, the 5-year-old team had never been to a national competition.

Now, Cui, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, is a leading attorney and treasurer for a team that is trying to get to the national tournament for the second time.

The team placed second overall out of 670 colleges and universities in last year’s competition, said Rachel Holt, team captain.

Many of the members are students who plan on attending law school after they graduate, said Holt, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

“It prepares undergraduates for law school and I don’t think I would be as organized or prepared for [the] real world if not for this organization,” she said.

Zaniah Maynor, club president, said last weekend’s competition would be her last invitational. “[The competition was] bittersweet … I went into the weekend just wanting to achieve something for my team,” said Maynor, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “I walked out with an outstanding attorney award.”

The award is given to attorneys who are ranked highly by competition judges. The judges are composed of law students and real attorneys, Maynor said. They grade each competing attorney on a 0 to 20 scale, and those with a score of 17 or higher receive the award.

Out of more than 100 attorneys, around 10 received the award, Maynor said. Cui also received the award.

The team is split into three groups based on skill and they are all sent to compete, she said.

Holt said the competition was good practice for the new members of the team.

“Other than myself and the president of the organization, everyone else is new to the A team,” Holt said.

Maynor said competitions combine acting, public speaking and law skills.

“Finding people who work well together and who can react to their teammates and can anticipate each other’s actions is part of having a good mock trial team,” Cui said.

Holt said she transferred from Loyola University after she watched a Rutgers Mock Trail match and was highly impressed.

“We have always had the goal to go nationals. We went for the first time last year and we want to make the Rutgers Mock Trial [team] known,” Maynor said.

The team’s coaches, attorneys Craig Aronow, Michael Roberts and Kimberly Aronow, run practices on Wednesdays and Sundays, Maynor said.

“We tackle our trial techniques, understanding evidence, and presentation, which is our biggest advantage because of the time we take to work on every detail,” she said.

Last weekend the team competed and placed third at Cornell University’s Ninth Annual Big Red Invitational Classic against other universities, some of which were Ivy League.

“We were invited to compete because of our success last year and we wanted a physical competition before regionals,” Cui said.

The team is headed to the 20-team regional tournament at Pennsylvania State University on Feb. 9 and 10, Maynor said. Seven teams will advance to the next round.

“After last year we were really proud placing second but we are not going to be happy until we avenge the loss to [Duke University] and get first in the national championship round this year,” Cui said.

By Shantae Bedassie

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