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Liberty Law Student Announced Winner of ABA Writing Competition

April 19, 2013

Ethan Hargraves (Class of 2014) is one of two national winners of the 2012-2013 Rona R. Mears Student Writing Competition and Scholarship Award. The American Bar Association (ABA) notified Hargraves in March of his winning amicus brief on the assigned topic of the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum case. The case that involves a claim under Alien Tort Statute (statute that permits those who are not U.S. citizens to bring civil suits in U.S. federal courts for international law violations) is currently pending the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

According to Hargraves the writing experience has been invaluable. “The competition afforded me the opportunity to contribute scholarship to a weighty and relevant issue. Participation alone was an exercise in critical thinking and writing, the benefits of which, I reaped before I even submitted the essay.” Hargraves’ essay, “The Alien Tort Statute and the Presumption Against Extraterritoriality,” will be published in an ABA Section Publication and on the Section’s Student Headquarters website.

“This is an exceptional honor to receive and Mr. Hargraves has proven himself to be an exceptional and talented legal professional in training,” said Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. “This national accomplishment makes the law school community very proud.”

Last summer Hargraves fulfilled an externship opportunity with Liberty Counsel by working on the case of Sexual Minorities of Uganda v. Scott Lively. Liberty Counsel represents Pastor Scott Lively who is being sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act for an alleged crime against international norms in Uganda. Liberty Counsel filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the ATS does not apply to alleged conduct outside of the United States. This is the exact issue presented in the Kiobel case, which the Supreme Court recently decided. The High Court held that the ATS does not apply to alleged acts committed outside of the United States.

“Having engaged with this specific issue aided in my construction of a coherent and comprehensive legal argument. Through my work at Liberty Counsel and this competition, I am that much more prepared to enter the practice of law,” said Hargraves.