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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Rutgers University Mock Trial Association (RUTMA) was first founded in 2005, and today is one of the most highly-competitive college mock trial organizations in the nation.
Every year, the teams receive a case packet from the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), which they prepare to present and argue in mock trial competitions.
Team practices are meant to be aggressive in preparation of mock trials. They have an intensive schedule with great assistance from the coaches. “I always say that practice should be worse than the game.” Aranow said.
The teams compete about once a month in invitationals in the fall. In the spring they compete in a three level competition.
“A team must place in the top seven of around twenty-five teams in order to move onto the next round,” RUTMA President, and closing attorney for the defense on the A-team, Esther Kang said.
RUTMA finished their Fall 2014 season with six winning ballots for the A-team at the December 5-8 Yale Invitational, four winning ballots for the B-team at the November 21-23 American WONK Invitational, and a record of 4 wins for the C-team at the November 14-16 Rochester University’s Yellow Jacket Invitational.
Gia Farooqi, Public Relations chair of RUTMA and B-team member, said, “What Rutgers is known for in the national circuit is that we are very good with our law and our evidence. We are well-trained because our coaches train us like real attorneys.”
“The reason I really enjoy it is because not only do you make lifelong friends and really learn a lot from it, but it really helps with your confidence and thinking process,” said Farooqi.
“It helps with your public speaking skills, your analytical skills, especially if you’re interested in going to law school, it’s really something that teaches you how a legal career would really play out.”
The organization has a vigorous audition process in the beginning of the year, where all returning and new members have to try out. Coaches then assess people based on skill and who they think are going to be the best fit for each of the three teams.
“This is our 8th year as an organization, so we are fairly young, especially compared to other teams across the nation. I think [the reason for our success] is definitely the students we have. We just have great determination, great drive on the team, and it really helps us become successful,” said Kang.
Craig Aranow is the head coach of RUTMA, and has been for nine years. Kimberly Yonta and Michael Roberts are the assistant coaches. The Faculty Advisor is Milton Heumann.
According to Aranow, the student-run organization consists of students that are interested in learning about trial practice in the law. The teams consist of students from all academic backgrounds, ranging from liberal arts, like political science, to sciences, like genetics and engineering.
“Ultimately, what they are interested in is learning about a different type of analytical thinking and public speaking. And so what we do is we teach the students how a jury trial works, the different aspects of a jury trial and what it means to be a trial lawyer in conducting jury trials,” Aranow said.
In January, the A-team is flying to California for a competition, the farthest they have ever traveled to compete, according to Kang.
In 2011, RUTMA took second place in the country at the Nationals Championship. The teams are very determined to make it to the National Competition round again.
“We think we have a great chance this year, better than we have in the past year or two. Three years ago we were second in the country. We want to take it all the way and take home the first prize,” Kang said.