Mock Trial Teams Court Success, Prepare for National Competition
UT Dallas’ mock trial teams will head to a national tournament after a successful season with a number of honors, including a second-place team trophy at the University of Kansas Jayhawk Invitational. Top row, from left: Veronica Roitberg, Aleena Farhat, Umul Lalee and Khusbu Shah. Bottom row, from left: Jack Sollows, Najib Gazi, Ayah Housini and Ashton Rel.
Two UT Dallas mock trial teams are heading to a national tournament after winning several honors at regional competitions, including a second-place team trophy at the University of Kansas Jayhawk Invitational.
The teams will compete in the American Mock Trial Association’s Opening Round Championship Series on March 16-18 in Greenville, South Carolina. Opening round winners advance to the association’s National Championship Tournament in April.
This is the third time in four years that UT Dallas teams are competing in the tournament.
Students gain experience for competitions through courses such as Mock Trial, where they act as both attorneys and witnesses. The course is offered through the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences with support from the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College.
The University’s Pre-Law Advising and Resource Center fields teams in three major undergraduate advocacy competitions: mock trial, moot court and mediation.
In mock trial competitions, students must argue a hypothetical case for the prosecution in two rounds and for the defense in two rounds, each of which can last up to three hours. This year’s case involves a love triangle that turned deadly for a pilot whose spouse had an affair with a soup truck owner.
“Each team had to prepare both a prosecution and defense side of the case. It is essentially having to prepare for two cases,” said Najib Gazi, a political science senior and a team captain.
In addition to their second-place team trophy at the University of Kansas Jayhawk Invitational in January, the students have racked up many individual honors this season, including:
- Christina Doncell BA’17 and Ayah Housini BA’17 won outstanding attorney honors at the Jayhawk Invitational.
- Gazi and Doncell won top attorney honors, while Jack Sollows, economics senior, received top honors as a witness at a regional competition in February hosted by UT Dallas.
- Ayala Ben David, a biology freshman, won a top witness award and Allison Clay, political science junior, won a top attorney award at a regional tournament in February hosted by Colorado College and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Tony Seagroves BA’10, an attorney who participated in mock trial as an undergraduate and now coaches the teams, said the students have invested hundreds of hours practicing throughout the academic year. The teams have traveled to competitions in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“We are not only students with similar goals and ambitions, but we are a close-knit group that I believe will stick together beyond our time as UT Dallas mock trial members.”
Team members attributed their successful season to Seagroves' coaching, plus a lot of hard work.
“The teams’ commitment and dedication to excel is the reason we have advanced to the Opening Round Championship Series,” said Housini, a team captain who earned her degree in international political economy and was an Archer Fellow. “This team had a month to prepare and perfect two cases before the Jayhawk Invitational. We have been meeting several times a week to polish our roles. We wouldn’t have made it this far without the team members’ dedication and coachability.”
Ashton Rel, a finance and economics senior, said he loves competing and credits mock trial for convincing him to pursue law school, something he was not sure about before joining the team. Rel added that in mock trial, he has found a second family.
“Never in my life would I have thought I would get so close to a group like this,” Rel said. “We are not only students with similar goals and ambitions, but we are a close-knit group that I believe will stick together beyond our time as UT Dallas mock trial members.”
Mock trial is open to any student. For more information, contact coach Seagroves at [email protected].
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].