The Rutgers University Mock Trial Association (“RUMTA”) competed at Cornell University’s “Big Red” Invitational on January 26thand 27th. Rutgers University’s top undergraduate mock trial team faced a competitive field that included teams from Yale University, Columbia University, Princeton University, George Washington University, and Cornell University. The competition consisted of four trials, each scored by two judges. Making its first appearance at Cornell’s Invitational, the Rutgers A-Team won 6 of the 8 judges’ scorecards to finish 3rd. The team has now placed in the top-5 at all three of its Invitational tournaments this season.
MCBA Board Trustee Craig Aronow of Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, LLP in New Brunswick is the team’s head coach. Michael Roberts of recently-founded Roberts & Teeter, LLC in New Brunswick and former Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Yonta Aronow act as assistant coaches. The trials were based upon a wrongful-death suit filed against a scuba diving company and involved two affirmative defenses as well as highly challenging evidentiary issues.
The Rutgers A-Team employed an aggressive style. Through a superior command of the rules of evidence and trial strategy, the team short-circuited the opposing teams’ cases. For example, after a heated hearsay argument, the Rutgers defense succeeded in having the plaintiff’s demonstrative barred from use, forcing an early end to the direct examination of a key witness.
Two Rutgers team members received individual Top Attorney Awards: RUMTA’s President Zaniah Maynor, the closing attorney for the plaintiff, and Gregory Cui, the closing attorney for the defense. Zaniah Maynor offered the following on the experience, “Our success was made possible by the tremendous dedication shown by this team and the outstanding coaching we have been so fortunate to receive. As excited as we are, we know that this is just the first step towards our true goal. With Regionals less than two weeks away, we will continue to push ourselves to become another National Championship-caliber Rutgers mock trial team.”
The American Mock Trial Association’s regional competition will be held at Penn State University on February 9thand 10th. If the team can place one of its two squads in the top eight at Penn State, they will move on to the Open Round Championships to compete for a spot in the National Championship Tournament.
The team would like to thank all of the local attorneys and law firms that have generously donated money, as well as the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and the Middlesex County Bar Foundation. Without these donations the team would not be able to travel to these competitions.