Mock Trial team takes second place in National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition

photo of the law school

In early February, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law Ault Mock Trial Team placed second out of 32 teams from across the country in the 13th annual Costello National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition hosted by George Mason University School of Law.  The CWRU team was also named best prosecution team in the competition.

Mock Trial Team Zoom photo

Consisting of third-year law students Haley Gold, Ben North and Grace Saalman, the CWRU team faced teams from Quinnipiac, Golden Gate, Loyola and University of Texas on the way to the final round, where they litigated their case in front of a panel of three federal judges, with Chief Judge Mark Hornak of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania presiding.

This is the first year a team from the law school has competed in this tournament, which was held virtually on Zoom because of the coronavirus. The trial involved the killing of a mayor by arson. Unique among mock trial tournaments, the Costello competition provides teams with new evidence and new witnesses in each successive trial round, to more closely simulate the realities of criminal trial practice. Teams must adapt their case presentation and develop new evidentiary arguments on the fly in each round. 

“Case Western Reserve is nationally ranked as a top school in both criminal law and practical training, and the strength of both specialties was on display with our team’s success in the Costello competition,” said law school Co-Dean Michael Scharf. “We are very proud of our students and grateful to their coach, alum Michael Gabelman.”  

Adjunct professor Gabelman (LAW ‘12) is an associate with Henderson, Mokharti, & Weatherly and has coached the Mock Trial team since 2017.

The Mock Trial program is supported by the Jonathan M. Ault Mock Trial endowment.  A pair of Case Western Reserve Ault Mock Trial teams will compete in the National Trial Competition on February 18-21, and two more will compete in the American Association for Justice tournament March 4-7.