Chicago-Kent Finishes Among Top Four Teams in the 2020 Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Chicago-Kent College of Law trial advocacy team of Annisha Arnold ’20, Shawn-Anthony Meyer ’20, Michael McGee ’20, and Cristina Alma McNeiley ’20 finished among the top four teams in the country in the National Black Law Students Association’s 2020 Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition.

2020 Chicago-Kent Constance Baker Motley Competition Team
(from left to right) The trial advocacy team of Shawn-Anthony Meyer ’20, Annisha Arnold ’20, Cristina Alma McNeiley ’20, and Michael McGee ’20 finished among the top four teams in the country in the 2020 Constance Baker Motley Competition.

The undefeated team captured the Midwest regional championship in February before competing in the national finals on March 3–5, 2020, in Cincinnati. At the national competition, the team defeated Syracuse University College of Law, Florida State University College of Law, and Seton Hall Law School before falling to Stetson University College of Law. Arnold also won Best Regional Advocate for the Midwest region and First Runner Up Best Advocate at the national competition.

“To be the reigning Regional Champions and have achieved third place on the national level feels amazing. Our team, including our incredible coaches, put in countless hours and worked non-stop,” says McGee on behalf of the team. “As time went on, many teams realized that we would be the team to beat and even though we didn’t take the national first place trophy, we left the competition having given it our all. This is an experience we will always remember, and we hope to have made Chicago-Kent and the Trial Team proud.”

At this year’s competition, the team argued a murder case that was inspired by the trial of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez. In the mock trial competition, Dom Hernandez was charged with the first-degree murder of a former friend and the prosecution had an opportunity to include the lesser charge of manslaughter. The national competition revised the case to include Dom’s wife as a defendant and charge her as an accessory after the fact.

Arnold graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.A. degree in communication. Meyer earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from Kansas State University. McGee graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government. McNeiley earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Butler University.

The team was coached by Kendra Spearman ‘15 and Adella Deacon ‘11. A special thanks also goes to alumni guest judges Gus Hernandez ’16 and Katrice Matthews ’10.

“The team worked incredibly hard every day. They practiced while also working jobs and staying on top of their academics,” says Spearman. “It was a great feeling watching them dominate round after round, especially knowing that they are all in their last year of law school. It was a blessing to see all of the hard work payoff. I am really proud of this group and just consider it a blessing to be their coach.”

Sponsored by the NBLSA, the competition is named for the Honorable Constance Baker Motley, the first African-American woman appointed to the federal judiciary.

Chicago-Kent’s trial advocacy teams have won numerous individual student honors and regional and national competitions. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings, Chicago-Kent’s Trial Advocacy Program is ranked fifth in the country.