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National Trial Competition Finish Caps Notable Year for Advocacy Programs

When the National Mock Trial team of the Class of 2013’s David Baumwoll, Kory Ramkawsky and Amanda Ribustello won the District 3 Regional Competition in February, the victory represented not only a “first” for the school but for the state as well. No other New Jersey law school had ever won the regional championship to advance to the national finals. In addition, the competition’s top individual honor, the Best Advocate Award, went to Baumwoll.

Texas Trial Finals
With the Quarterfinalist Cup in San Antonio are (l-r): coaches Christopher Karounos ’06 and Maritza Rodriguez ’11, and National Mock Trial Team members Amanda Ribustello and Kory Ramkawsky.

That success made the quarterfinal finish of Ramkawsky and Ribustello, who represented Rutgers School of Law–Newark in the finals, an even more impressive achievement. The team placed fifth overall out of the 28 best mock trial teams from around the country.

Three hundred and twenty law school teams had competed in the 14 regional competitions that led up to the finals in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to earning National Quarterfinalist honors, Ramkawsky and Ribustello each also received an American College of Trial Lawyers Medallion for Excellence in Trial Advocacy.

At nationals, the Rutgers–Newark Law team won its three preliminary rounds, edging out competitive teams from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, John Marshall School of Law, and the University of California–Berkeley School of Law. It advanced to the quarters, which consisted of the top eight teams, as one of only three undefeated teams. Arguing against Loyola University Chicago School of Law, the team finished just a few points short of making it to the semifinals. Loyola–Chicago eventually took second place in the National Trial Competition.

The team was coached by Christopher Karounos ’06, Maritza Rodriguez ’11, and Adjunct Professor Judy Russell ’81, who together with Associate Dean Andrew Rossner serves as faculty advisor to the Moot Court Board. They also coached the Class of 2014’s Anthony Marcum, Christopher Mitchell and Charles Simmons, whose team had an impressive showing competing in the regional round. Mitchell and Simmons were the winners of the Nathan Baker Mock Trial Competition held in Fall 2012; Ramkawsky and Ribustello were the previous year’s Baker winners.

As co-chair with Joseph Lo Galbo ’13 of the Moot Court Board as well as a National Trial Competition quarterfinalist, Amanda Ribustello is particularly delighted with this year’s results. “It was wonderful to see how our hard work and efforts paid off,” she said, “but the National Mock Trial Team’s success at the regionals and nationals, combined with the successes of our various outside competition teams, marks an important feat for Rutgers–Newark. 

“Each team’s success has showcased the talent of our students and highlighted Rutgers School of Law–Newark as a real competitor at these competitions. I am so honored that I had the opportunity to be a part of it, both as a competitor and as the co-chair of the Moot Court Board alongside Joe.”

Entertainment Law team
David Nathan and Elizabeth Bergamo took the Second Best Brief Award in the Cardozo/BMI Entertainment and Communication Moot Court Competition.
Crim Pro Team
Olivia Quinto, Jamies Herrera and Anthony Talarico participated in Seton Hall's John J. Gibbons National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition.
Employment Law team
Marolhin Mendez and Sam Hanna represented the law school in New York Law School’s Robert F. Wagner Labor and Employment Law Competition.

The increasing excellence of the school’s advocacy program was evident in several other competitions this year. As Andrew L. Rossner, Associate Dean for Skills and Professional Education, observed: “Rutgers Law–Newark’s successes in a broad range of regional, national and international moot court competitions attests to the quality and strength of our students’ advocacy skills. The Moot Court Board, our faculty advisors and coaches have done a fantastic job of enhancing the opportunities and commitment to showcasing our talent nationwide and the competing students have raised our program’s profile with their superb advocacy.”

In international competitions, the Jessup International Moot Court Team advanced to the quarterfinals of the regional competition, placing sixth out of 20 in the highly-competitive Northeast Regional at the White & Case Jessup Moot Court International Competition. Jessup is one of the oldest and most prestigious moot court competitions in the world. 

The Jessup Team of Josh Glass ’13, Mary Orsini ’13, Emily Button Aguilar ’14, Ali Jaloudi ’14, and Olivia Pomann ’14 went 3-1 in the preliminary rounds and tied for fourth best memorial. Glass was selected as the fourth best oralist. The team is coached by Adjunct Professor William E. Schroeder ’88, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

Each year the Moot Court Board also sponsors teams that compete in specialized competitions. Kory Ramkawsky headed the selection process for those teams. “Competing in mock trials as an undergraduate pointed me to law school,” said Ramkawsky. “I wanted to pass on the invaluable learning opportunity I found in competing to as many of my colleagues as possible. As the outside competitions coordinator, I was able to organize more teams than in recent Moot Court Board history, but that is all I did — I organized, I put the right people together with the right coach, and they took it from there. It is a testament to the dedication, drive, and talent of Rutgers-Newark students that the teams did so well. I am glad just that I was able to have some hand in it.”

The first to argue in a specialized competition was the Price Media Law Moot Court Team of Micah Pakay ’13, Siobhan Kinealy ’14, Ryan Raichilson ’15, and David Sisk ’14. The students represented Rutgers–Newark Law in the Americas Regional Rounds at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Team members learned new areas of law, dealing exclusively in international law, writing “memorials” instead of briefs, and developing oral advocacy skills. A quarterfinalist, they placed eighth out of more than 20 teams. The team was coached by Thomas J. Cafferty ’72, Gibbons PC.

David Nathan ’13 and Elizabeth Bergamo ’13 competed in the Cardozo/BMI Entertainment and Communication Moot Court Competition. Their team took the Second Best Brief Award and advanced to the semi-finals, finishing in the top four in a competition that drew 30 teams from around the country. Assistance was provided by Associate Dean Andrew Rothman and Clinical Professor John Kettle.

The Class of 2013’s Olivia Quinto, Jamie Herrera, and Anthony Talarico competed in Seton Hall’s John J. Gibbons National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Competition. The team learned real world skills in appellate advocacy and increased their knowledge of criminal procedure issues. Professor George Thomas coached the team.

Marolhin Mendez ’14 and Sam Hanna ’14, who competed in New York Law School’s Robert F. Wagner Labor and Employment Law Competition against tough competition from schools throughout the U.S., gained tremendous experience as they worked to hone their briefs and moot the issues. They were coached by Randall Brett ’07, Law Office of Randall P. Brett.

This Spring, the Moot Court Board also coordinated the 2013 David Cohn Appellate Advocacy Competition, and Lo Galbo wrote and developed a challenging and exciting problem for the competitors. New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, the Honorable Julio Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and Sylvia Cohn, Esq., representing the Cohn family, presided over the argument. The winner, Kimberly Eaton ’14, will represent the law school next year alongside Brian Shemesh ’14 and Tom Syverson ’14 as members of the National Appellate Team. They will be coached by Alan Thomas ’87, Fischer Porter & Thomas P.C.

Before stepping down as co-chairs of the Moot Court Board, Ribustello and Lo Galbo had one last task to oversee – an all-inclusive Moot Court Board Restructuring Plan, which seeks to strengthen the board and ensure that its successes will continue. Passed by the board in April, the plan will be implemented by incoming chairs Christopher Mitchell ’14 and David Sisk ’14.