Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Liberty law students win a first-place honor at Moot Court competition

Law teams from Liberty’s School of Law traveled to Regent University in Virginia Beach to compete in a two-day moot court tournament.

Moot — Liberty students won top honors at the Moot Court competition and will compete in two national tournaments later in the month. Photo credit: Alyssa Bockman

The Leroy R. Hassell Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition, held Feb. 17 to 18, dealt specifically with the decision of whether states are authorized to pass laws that address illegal immigration and whether they can enforce those laws.

According to the Director of the Center for Lawyering Skills at the Law School and Faculty Advisor to the Moot Court program Scott Thompson, the questions arise because many states are frustrated with the federal government’s ability to address the illegal immigration problem and they want to handle it on the state level.

Thompson coached two teams of law students alongside Dean Rena Lindevaldsen. The competition consisted of 13 teams from various schools, including Brigham-Young University, Howard University, the University of Albany-State University of New York, Elon University and William and Mary.

“Team members are chosen following their participation in an internal tournament which is required during their first year of law school, and often times following their voluntary participation in their second year of law school,” Thompson said. Thompson said he is responsible for selecting the best competitors and pairing them together in teams that will be the most competitive. Each year, Liberty attends six tournaments that involve roughly 20 students.

For this particular tournament, Law School students John Mark Becton, Brian Giaquinto, Scott Stier and Charity Katze started preparing over Christmas break. They each researched the legal questions and drafted 30-40-page briefs on the topics. Once each draft was submitted, the four students participated in four weeks of intense oral argument practice to prepare them to answer any question given to them by the professional judges. The oral preparation included five hours of in-class argument each week leading up to the tournament, as well as up to four or five times that much practice on their own.

As far as tough competition goes, William and Mary was Liberty’s stiffest competition at this tournament. Out of two teams that were sent to Regent to compete, one was undefeated while the other team lost three times, all to William and Mary. However, Liberty did leave the competition with a few prestigious wins: Giaquinto and Becton won the awards for Tournament Champion and Second Best Brief, while Charity Katze won Best Oralist and Giaquinto walked away with Third Best Oralist.

“Before we left the Liberty Law School parking lot, we dedicated the tournament to the Lord and prayed that, no matter what, He would be blessed,” Katze said. “It is such an honor to be a part of a school that puts God first and seeks to honor Him in all we are involved in.” Katze also spoke highly of the professors and their skilled training.

‘The success of the teams is a testament to the dedication of our coaches, Professor Thompson and Dean Lindevaldsen, and the Moot Court Board. These individuals worked so hard to prepare us for the tournament, and we felt like there was nothing we weren’t prepared for,” Katze said.

Giaquinto expressed his gratitude for all the teaching and practice that the Law School has provided for him. “The tournament was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that Liberty University School of Law students perform at the highest levels of legal scholarship in comparison to other law schools across the country,” Giaquinto said.

Six more students will compete in two weeks at the American Bar Association National Advocacy Competition in Washington, D.C. Following that, five students will compete in the Billings Exum and Frye National Moot Court Competition held at Elon University over the last weekend in March.

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