Chicago-Kent Team Advanced to Semi-Final Round of the Capitol City Challenge

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Chicago-Kent College of Law trial advocacy team of Derek Bolka ’20, Katrina O’ Regan ’21, Alex Stark ’20, and Lilly Mashayek ’20 advanced to the semifinals of the Capitol City Challenge at American University's Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. It is the first time that a Chicago-Kent team has reached the semifinals of this competition, which were held March 5–8, 2020.

2020 Capitol City Trial Team
(From left to right) The Chicago-Kent trial advocacy team of Alex Stark ‘20, Derek Bolka ‘20, Lilly Mashayek ’20 and Katrina O’ Regan ’21 advanced to the semifinals of the 2020 Capitol City Challenge. It is the first time that a Chicago-Kent team has reached the semifinals of this competition, which were held March 5–8, 2020.

The competition started with 24 teams, and Chicago-Kent defeated Georgia State School of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law, and Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law before falling in the semifinals to UIC John Marshall Law School.

At this year’s competition, the team argued a wrongful death case involving an employee at racetrack. The employee suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting in death after the horse he was handling became spooked and knocked him out of the starting gate prior to the race.

The Capitol City Challenge exposes participants to modern-day trial advocacy by challenging students to integrate technology into the presentation of trial materials to effectively to argue their cases. The Chicago-Kent team used PowerPoint throughout the trial, which could be edited mid-trial based on what evidence was allowed. The team also used TrialPad, a litigation iPad app, during both direct and cross examinations. TrialPad allows both sides to expand or highlight certain sections or sentences in a document for the jury.

Bolka, Mashayek, and Stark, all 3Ls, said they are happy to have ended their time on the trial advocacy team with such a successful competition. This was O’Regan’s first competition, and she looks forward to incorporating this experience into future competitions.

“The four of us are very proud to have been the first team from Chicago-Kent to make it to the semifinals of the Capitol City Challenge,” the team said in a joint statement. “We are very proud that all of our hard work paid off this year, and we are grateful to our coaches and other members of the Chicago-Kent Trial Advocacy Team who helped us along the way.”

The team was coached by John Montelongo ’91, principal of John M. Montelongo Attorney at Law P.C.,  and Guy Guenther ’18, who is a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Montelongo says special thanks also goes to guest judges Sam Haque, Natalie Adeeyo ’16, Warren Fasone ’18, and Matt Casey ’09.

It was Guenther’s second time coaching a Capitol City Challenge team for Chicago-Kent, Montelongo says, and the results are “a direct testimony to his coaching ability and talent.”

“Guy coached this team to achieve the results they received,” Montelongo says. “Guy singlehandedly guided the team through the entire competition, from the initial coaches meeting to the last trial.”

Bolka earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Valparaiso University; Mashayek graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in communication; O’Regan graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in public administration; and Stark earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern University.