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March 20, 2007

Students Rock Court and Trial Competitions

By Liz Polizzi

Though we may not be quite ready to go out and save the world with our amazing oratory skills and deep scholarly insight into the finer points of federal jurisprudence, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start practicing our chops. For those who just can’t wait, a host of moot court competitions offer the opportunity to grapple with all the issues of the day, from sex crimes to patent infringement, while refining our Clarence Darrow imitations, relatively risk-free.

Here at home, the final round of the Campbell Moot Court Competition, slated to be held on Thursday, March 29, promises an exciting girls-against-boys head-to-head, when Jeremy Suhr and Robert Stockman take on Caitlin Bair and Jessica Berry in the case of Dope v. Piper (see sidebar for more details), before the Honorable Steven M. Colloton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; the Honorable Deanell R. Tacha, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; and the Honorable Gerald B. Tjoflat, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Meanwhile, various Law School student groups have been sponsoring teams to compete in several major, national moot court competitions around the country.

On February 10, Outlaws sent two teams to the National Sexual Orientation Moot Court competition at UCLA Law School. The case was about a gay couple who wanted to adopt a foster child in the fictional state of New Texico. The team members were Stacy Braverman, David Brown, Anya Pavlov-Shapiro, Jennifer Carney, Jordan Long, and Ryan Taylor, all 1Ls. “As 1Ls, the experience was valuable as an exercise in research and writing for a brief, and in the elaboration of an oral argument,” said Brown. “In other words, the preparation meant a lot, while the actual ‘moot court’ was sort of the whipped cream and cherry on top.”

Also on February 10, Scott Simpson, Kyle Palazzolo, and Meghan McCall participated in the National Trial Competition. The mock trial involved a case of sexual battery. The competition was sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Betsey Wiegman, Josh McCaleb, and Kristen Klanow made it to the semi-final round of the Child Welfare and Adoption Moot Court, in Columbus, Ohio, on February 16-17. The competition was cosponsored by the National Association of Counsel for Children, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy. The problem involved a putative father who sought to assert rights to a child who had been put up for adoption in a different state. “It was a really great experience,” said Wiegman, “largely due to my fabulous teammates, Josh and Kristen, and our equally fabulous coach, Vivek Sankaran.” The team also won third place for their brief.

Grappling with a lawsuit involving the hot topic of international climate change, Shane Conway, Bobby Mauger, and Heather Gott journeyed to White Plains, New York, to compete in the National Environmental Moot Court Competition on February 22-24. The team was sponsored by the Environmental Law Society.

Over spring break, Katherine Konieczny and Mary Hanna-Weir participated in the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition, at the University of Minnesota Law School. The team was sponsored by the ACLU, and the problem considered the constitutionality of voluntary race-conscious school assignment plans at the primary and secondary level.

Representing the Intellectual Property Students Association, Keeley Vega, Tom Rooney, Liz Stameshkin, and Rebecca Cantor went to Chicago to compete in the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition on March 16-18. The problem dealt with a patent and copyright infringement case.

In addition to the competitions that have already transpired, the Entertainment Media and Arts Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society are both sponsoring teams in competitions at the end of March.

Michael McGovern and Tim Caballero, advised by Professor Jessica Litman, will compete in the BMI / Cardozo Moot Court Competition at Cardozo Law School in New York, on March 22-25, sponsored by EMALSA. The problem is loosely based on the copyright and trademark issues surrounding GoogleBooks.

Finally, on March 31, 1Ls Leslie J. Onan and Ron Spinner, and 3Ls Kelvin M. Lawrence and Tom Ferrone, will head out to New York to compete in the Constance Baker Motley National Moot Court Competition. The problem includes two parts, the first considering whether a newspaper can be enjoined from publishing the details of a secret intelligence collection program run by the NSA, and the second contemplating whether the government can constitutionally prosecute a newspaper under the Espionage Act for publishing such details.