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First-Year Students Face Prominent Panel in Ninth Annual George and Helen Hermestroff 1L Moot Court Tournament

March 23, 2013

Liberty University School of Law congratulates Hugh Jackson on his accomplishment as champion in the Ninth Annual George and Helen Hermestroff 1L Moot Court Tournament, held Saturday, March 23, 2013. Dustin Lujan was runner-up while John Maghamez and Amanda Hornick were the other finalists. The final round was held in the law school’s Supreme Courtroom.

The entire tournament is an intense, weeklong process required for all 1Ls to satisfy an integral part of Liberty’s unparalleled Lawyering Skills program. “By competing, each student is given immeasurable experience as they begin to hone their writing and oral advocacy skills,” adds Professor Scott Thompson, Director of the Center for Lawyering Skills. “They are judged by law professors, practicing alumni, attorneys, and for the final round; a panel of nine sitting judges from across the nation. It’s an exciting week for the faculty and the students.”

“In a way, you [the final-four] are being baptized by fire to argue in front of such a ferocious panel of judges,” said the Honorable James A. Teilborg, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona. 

The invited judges critiqued each student’s argument, provided constructive feedback, and ultimately determined the champion. “This year we had an amazing panel of trial judges, state Supreme Court justices, and federal and state Courts of Appeal judges; stretching all the way from Colorado and Arizona. The judges’ participation in the final round provides a unique opportunity for our students. No other law school in the country brings in nine sitting judges of this caliber to judge first-year law students,” added Mathew Staver, Dean of Liberty University School of Law.

According to the visiting judges, the final competitors argued at a level beyond their level of education and experience. Returning for her third visit was the Honorable Alice M. Batchelder, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Batchelder said, “I have seen many arguments and judged many competitions. Liberty, by far, has the highest degree of professionalism and the 1L class, here, performed every bit as well as any upperclassmen I have ever judged.” 

The invited bench for the final round consisted of a highly accomplished judiciary including: the Honorable Alice M. Batchelder, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; the Honorable Eric G. Bruggink, U.S. Court of Federal Claims; the Honorable R. Edwin Burnette, General District Court, 24th Judicial District of Virginia; the Honorable David M. Furman, Colorado Court of Appeals; the Honorable Michael J. Gableman, Wisconsin Supreme Court; the Honorable John C. Gemmill, Arizona Court of Appeals; the Honorable William J. Riley, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; the Honorable Paul Spinden, Missouri Court of Appeals (retired) and the Honorable James A. Teilborg, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.

Justice Gableman also went on to say, “The competing students showed a remarkable mastery of the facts and case law. I quickly realized that I couldn’t hold back on my tone or my demeanor, as it was evident that these competitors were obviously prepared. I knew I couldn’t take it easy on this group. Well done Liberty!”

"Moot Court has always been my favorite form of competition. The competitors this year were filled with aggression and full of knowledge about the case. It was an exciting final round to watch," said Staver. “I am deeply appreciative of Professor Scott Thompson, and the Moot Court board, for the endless hours of work and preparations to make this year’s 1L tournament a success.”