McGeorge mock trial teams thrive in virtual competitions

Mock Trial Team

Rawan Abuelreich, Aya Aldairi, Taylor Arthur and Rachel Pombo participated in the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Mock Trial Competition hosted by UC Davis

Members of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law's mock trial teams have been gearing up for their competitive season despite major changes because of the ongoing pandemic, forcing competitions to be held via Zoom.

Already, McGeorge’s mock trial team of Aaron Cadiz, Jenna Forster, Candra Jackson and Yuliy Tsymbal made it to the semifinals in the highly competitive invitational Battle of the Experts tournament hosted by Drexel Thomas R. Kline School of Law. Tsymbal won the Best Advocate Award in the entire competition, an extremely impressive feat given that there were 64 student competitors. The team went undefeated in their preliminary rounds, with UCLA receiving one more ballot and two more points than McGeorge in the semi-finals. 

"The competition was unique in several aspects as the fact pattern was based on a well-known criminal case," said Jesse Saucedo, mock trial team coach. "I want to congratulate the mock trial team for finishing as semifinalists and defeating some of the top-ranked trial advocacy schools in the nation."

The Battle of the Experts is a unique mock trial competition that showcases the critical role of expert witnesses in litigation. The competition is limited to 16 of the strongest trial advocacy law schools in the country, ensuring a challenging and rewarding experience for competitors.

The McGeorge team was coached by alumni Saucedo ’11 and Heather Phillips ’17.

Another McGeorge mock trial team of Jackson Haddon, Nicolas Stotter, Josh White and Richanne Roope competed against some of the best teams in the country in the National Civil Trial Competition held Nov. 1315, 2020. The team advanced to the championship round against Temple Law School and in that round, Haddon and Stotter tried the case, which was watched by many McGeorge classmates over Zoom.

"Each team member excelled in the competition and all of them were ranked on ballots as the top advocate in a round," said Niki Cunningham, mock trial team coach. "This team is so talented and wonderful to work with. This competition marked another impressive showing by the McGeorge mock trial team."

The National Civil Trial Competition is an invitational tournament open to all American Bar Association accredited law schools that have demonstrated excellence in mock trial competitions and/or demonstrated excellence in the training of law students in litigation skills. The purpose of the tournament is to provide student litigants an opportunity to develop and display the skills of a successful civil litigator. Students are required to perform opening statements, direct- and cross-examination of expert and lay witnesses and finally closing arguments, as well as argue objections based on the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The McGeorge team was coached—all from long distance—by alumni Cunningham '11 and Keith Hill '96. This year marked the third time McGeorge has advanced to the championship round of the competition, including 2018 when the law school won the championship.

In October, the McGeorge mock trial team of Rawan Abuelreich, Aya Aldairi, Taylor Arthur and Rachel Pombo participated in the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Mock Trial Competition hosted by UC Davis where they competed against 24 teams including University of San Diego, University of South Dakota and Harvard University.

"Each of the advocates brought passion, energy and skill to a difficult competition further complicated by the challenge of translating in-court advocacy to Zoom," said Byron Roope, McGeorge mock trial team coach. "Their knowledge of the evidence was particularly exceptional and they were tenacious in dealing with some puzzling and quirky rulings from judges, as well as questionable tactics used by the opposing teams. They showed themselves true advocates."

The McGeorge team was coached by alumni Byron Roope '08 and Matthew Taylor '11. The competition delivered four individual awards and McGeorge's Abuelreich won Best Overall Direct and Best Advocate awards.

The award-winning McGeorge Mock Trial Competition Program, directed by the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, provides numerous opportunities for students to expand their courtroom experience, improve appellate advocacy skills, and refine their skills in client counseling, negotiation and arbitration.

Students receive coaching and practice in specific trial skills and each year, are able to test their abilities in competitions across the nation and around the world in such diverse subject areas as international law, constitutional law, criminal procedure, intellectual property and more.