Friday, February 24, 2023

The weekend of February 16-18, two Liberty University School of Law moot court teams competed in the regional round of the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Philadelphia, PA.
Thirty-one teams competed in Philly, with four teams winning the regional rounds and advancing to the national finals that will take place April 14-15, in Washington, D.C.

Both Liberty Law teams performed well with a problem involving complicated, cutting-edge first amendment issues of whether in-class speech of public college professors should be treated as official duty speech under Garcetti, and whether the school can require the professors to deliver specific curricular instruction (content) even when that instruction conflicts with the professor’s beliefs, and without affording them the right to disclaim the views as their own.

Liberty Law team Zakyrah Hundley and Stephen Hawley—with Tommy Walsh as the brief writer—advanced to the national competition. To win their spot, Hundley and Hawley switched from the petitioner’s argument they made in the three prior rounds to then argue for respondents. They transitioned seamlessly and took all three ballots in the final round.

The second Liberty Law team—consisting of Payton Gonzales, Caitlyn Switzer, and Rylee Seabolt on brief—won their first four rounds, losing only in the last round of the regional competition. In that final round, they took one ballot by several points, while the other team also took one ballot by several points, and they lost on the deciding ballot by just one point.

Although the Gonzales, Switzer, and Seabolt team did not advance to the nationals in D.C., they won the third best brief, fourth best oralist (Switzer), and seventh best oralist (Gonzales) awards.
Throughout the competition, Liberty Law prevailed over teams from American University, Drexel University, University of Baltimore, Loyola University Chicago School of Law (twice), University of Florida, University of Oklahoma, and UNT Dallas College of Law.

Professor Natalie Rhoads and Professor Rena Lindevaldsen coached the teams and could not be prouder of all that was accomplished. Lindevaldsen noted that all our students worked hard and performed with excellence and grace and were wonderful representatives of Liberty Law.
To learn more about Liberty University School of Law moot court program, please visit our website.