IIT Chicago-Kent to Compete in NBLSA’S Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Midwest Regional Competition


(L-R) Hazel Gumbs, Rachel Oliver, Joanna Ojo, Brittany Pritchett. Photo by David Durochik

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law will defend its regional championship in the National Black Law Students Association’s (NBLSA) Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Midwest Regional Competition. IIT Chicago-Kent will compete against teams from 12 states in the region during NBLSA’s Midwest convention February 15-19 in Columbus, Ohio. The top two teams in the Midwest competition will join ten teams from five other regions at the national finals March 7-11 in Washington, D.C.

Third-year students Hazel Gumbs and Brittany Pritchett and second-year students Joanna Ojo and Rachel Oliver will represent IIT Chicago-Kent in the tournament. The team is coached by Cook County Circuit Court judges Maxwell Griffin, Jr. and Donald Havis and Chicago attorney Michael Baron.

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.