Mock Trial, Moot Court teams saddle up to the bench

October 18, 2016

Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine Students who want to practice oral arguments will have their dockets full this fall.

Benedictine will host the Mock Trial team’s second invitational tournament, the Midwest Classic, on October 29-30. The University also recently formed a new Moot Court team, which will commence its inaugural season by competing at Loyola University Chicago School of Law November 19-20.

Students on the Mock Trial team argue a hypothetical case before a judge and jury in a simulated courtroom setting which includes witnesses and exhibits. In Moot Court, students argue decisions before a judge that have already been made by lower courts.

Both teams want to build off the success of the 2015-16 Mock Trial team, which earned three top 10 tournament finishes and qualified for the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) Opening Round Championship Series for the second straight year.

Every year, AMTA hosts 25 regional tournaments with more than 550 mock trial teams from 350 universities and colleges across the country. Only the top teams from each regional tournament advance and compete in the Opening Round Championship Series.

Benedictine’s team successfully completed the regional tournament held at Lewis University in Joliet, and had a strong showing at the Opening Round Championship held at the Geneva Courthouse in Geneva, Ill., narrowly missing a bid for the national championship by 7 combined points.

The team improved its national power ranking by 51 spots, and team captain Paulina Piasecki earned her second consecutive award as an Outstanding Mock Trial Attorney.

Coaches on both Mock Trial and Moot Court teams are Tammy Sarver, Ph.D., J.D., professor and chair of the Department of Political Science; William J. Rock, an attorney with Block, Klukas, Manzellas & Shell, P.C.; Brett J. Natarelli, C05, an attorney with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP; and John Senese and Yara Rashad, C16, paralegals from the Peter Francis Geraci law firm.

Students on the 2015-16 Mock Trial team included:

Rishikesh Balakrishnan

Genevieve Borowski

Jake Brown

Janet Contreras-Mares

Karina Contreras

Yolanda Drew

Christina Garza

Junelly Gonzalez

Irsah Hayat

Yara Rashad

Stephanie Rhinesmith

Leonardo Rodriguez

Aryana Taylor

Sa Vaun Hamilton

Karina Magana

Kellen McCullum

Mahira Musani

Sam Ortega-Guerrero

Paulina Piasecki

Ryan Poro


 Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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