IIT Chicago-Kent wins the Midwest regional championship of the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition and advances to the national finals

Marcell Taylor wins the tournament's Best Oral Advocate award

Monday, February 21, 2011

The IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law team of Onika Angus, Adella Deacon, Janelle Fairchild and Marcell Taylor has won the Midwest regional championship and has advanced to the national finals of the National Black Law Students Association's (NBLSA) Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition. Team member Marcell Taylor won an individual award as the competition's Best Oral Advocate.

Chicago-Kent competed against teams from 11 states in the regional competition, held February 16 to 20 in Chicago. The regional championship team from Chicago-Kent and the first-runner up team from DePaul will compete against the top two teams from five other regions in the national finals March 9 to 13 in Houston. This is the second consecutive year a team from Chicago-Kent has advanced to the national finals.

The students argued a criminal case involving prostitution and child pornography.

Winning Chicago-Kent team member Adella Deacon, a third-year student, earned an undergraduate degree in exercise physiology and a doctoral degree in physical therapy from Marquette University. Teammate Janelle Fairchild, a third-year student, is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago with a major in psychology. Teammate Onika Angus is a third-year student who graduated with honors from Alcorn State University with a major in political science. Second-year student Marcell Taylor earned his undergraduate degree from DePaul University with a major in political science and a minor in professional writing. (Deacon and Fairchild were also members of the Chicago-Kent team that represented the region in the 2010 national finals in Boston.)

A second Chicago-Kent team comprised of third-year students Clyde Guilamo and Natashia Holmes, second-year student Temilade Oduala and first-year student Rachel Oliver advanced to the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

Both teams are coached by Cook County Circuit Court judges Israel Desierto '90, Maxwell Griffin, Jr., Donald Havis and Sybil Thomas '91. Chicago-Kent's participation in the competition is supported by a gift to the law school from the Chicago law firm of SmithAmundsen LLC.

The NBLSA mock court competition, established in 2002, is named for the Honorable Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Known for his work as special counsel for the NAACP in the landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Justice Marshall amassed an enviable trial record. As a civil rights attorney, he won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court between 1940 and 1961. As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, from 1961 to 1965, he made 112 rulings -- none of which were reversed on certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed U.S. Solicitor General in 1965, he won 14 of the 19 cases he argued on behalf of the government. Justice Marshall was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Johnson in 1967, where he served until his retirement in 1991. He died in 1993.

Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. Chicago-Kent's trial advocacy teams have won numerous individual student honors and regional and national competitions, including the 1988, 2007 and 2008 National Trial Competition championships. In 2008, Chicago-Kent became the first law school to win both the National Trial Competition and the National Moot Court Competition in the same year.