IIT Chicago-Kent advances to the NBLSA Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition finals
The IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law team of Hazel Gumbs, Rachel Oliver, Johanna Ojo and Brittany Pritchett has advanced to the national finals of the National Black Law Students Association's (NBLSA) Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition. IIT Chicago-Kent, one of the top two teams in the Midwest regional tournament held February 15 to 19 in Columbus, Ohio, will join eleven teams in the national finals, which take place during NBLSA's national convention March 7 to 11 in Washington, D.C. This is the third consecutive year in which IIT has reached the NBLSA national finals.
IIT Chicago-Kent team member Hazel Gumbs, a third-year student, earned an undergraduate degree from Howard University with a double major in economics and political science and a master's degree in public policy from George Washington University. Teammate Rachel Oliver, a second-year student, is a graduate of Shaw University with a major in international relations. Teammate Johanna Ojo, a second-year student, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where she majored in political science. Teammate Brittany Pritchett is a third-year student who completed her undergraduate education at Stephen F. Austin State University with a double major in business administration and Spanish.
The team is coached by Cook County Circuit Court Israel Desierto' 90 and Maxwell Griffin Jr.
The NBLSA mock trial 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.
IIT 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. The law school established a chapter of NBLSA in 1974. IIT 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, IIT Chicago-Kent became the first law school to win both the National Trial Competition and the National Moot Court Competition in the same year.