Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA
 

Past Awards


Moot Court Takes Second Place at Labor and Employment Law Competition

At the Robert F. Wagner Sr. Labor and Employment Law Competition in New York, Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program team of Daneen Furr, Ben Sampson and Arthur Sezgin earned a phenomenal Second Place. This is quite an accomplishment for a competition with 46 competing teams, and Southwestern only finished behind Charlotte. This also marks Southwestern's best performance at this particular competition to date, as the team defeated South Texas to advance to the final round. In earlier rounds, Southwestern defeated teams from UNLV, West Virginia, University of Mississippi and Marquette.

The Wagner Competition is the nation's largest student-run moot court competition and the premier national competition dedicated exclusively to the areas of labor and employment law. This year's case involved a wrongful termination case involving an obese worker in violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Professor Christopher Cameron served as the team advisor. He commented, "Their oral advocacy was some of the best I've seen at this competition, and got even better with each trip they took to the podium."


Southwestern Moot Court Oralists Share Top Honors at Telecommunications Competition

Co-Best OralistsAt the recent National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C., Southwestern teammates Michael Le and Sarah Moe were both named Best Oralist and will be acknowledged in an upcoming issue of Federal Communications Bar Report.

Professor Michael Epstein, who coached the team, said, "This recognition is all the more sweet considering that Michael and Sarah, as SCALE students, had no prior course exposure to Telecom or the First Amendment. Supporting the team all the way to Washington was writer Jenifer Slott, who diligently helped prep her teammates during their practice rounds." Eleven teams participated in the competition, which included entrants from Catholic University, Georgetown University, George Washington University and others. Read more.


Moot Court Team Earns Second Place at National Evidence Competition

Moot Court Prince Team 2011Southwestern's Moot Court team of second-year day student Courtney Martin and SCALE II students Chandler Parker and Bryan Swaim earned Second Place at the 26th Annual Dean Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition. Brooklyn Law School hosted the event in which 36 teams competed. Southwestern's team defeated Georgetown in the quarterfinals and USC in the semifinals before losing to Georgia State in the last round.

"Preparing for the competition was challenging, intense, and extremely rewarding," Parker said. "What contributed most to our success was that each member of our team was truly committed to doing their best in the competition and was willing to put in the extraordinary amount of work required to succeed. Furthermore, our faculty advisor, Professor Norman Garland, proved to be an indispensable resource in terms of helping us expand our understanding of the law and perfect our arguments. The professors and alumni who donated their time and energy to judge us during the practice rounds truly prepared us for the difficult judges we faced in competition."

Professor Garland said it was a joy and a thrill to take this team to the Prince Competition. "The brief was solid and the three advocates were each and all worthy of top notch performances," he said. "And they delivered. They were on top of the subject and were a dream to coach. We lost by the narrowest of margins in the final round. I could not be prouder."

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(from left, all holding awards) Professor Garland, Chandler Parker, Bryan Swaim and Courtney Martin with the judges

The team tackled a problem with several issues. First, whether Federal Rule of Evidence 413 includes a criminal defendant's prior sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl which constituted statutory rape under state law and whether its admission would violate the defendant's constitutional right to due process. Second, whether excluding evidence of three prior instances of an alleged rape victim's sexual conduct violates a criminal defendant's due process rights, and whether Federal Rule of Evidence 412 bars a prior false allegation of rape. Third, does a statement made by an unpaid intern qualify as a party admission under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(D).

"Combining our team members' constant and effective communication as a team with the support of both our Moot Court board advisor Trish Rosman and Professor Garland equaled success," Martin said. "Chandler, Bryan and I really appreciated all of the support and advice we received from our advisors both in preparing for and during the competition. We couldn't have done it without them!"

Parker reiterated the importance of having such a supportive community at the law school. "This entire process reaffirmed my deep appreciation for Southwestern and reminded me how lucky I am to attend a school that is truly committed to seeing their students succeed," he said. "During the competition, students from other schools would talk about the lack of support they received in preparing for the competition. My experience could not be more different. The students, faculty and alumni at Southwestern went above and beyond the call of duty to help us prepare. I felt as if the entire school was behind us, and I am very proud to have had the opportunity to represent such a great school in a national competition."


Moot Court Team Wins Best Respondents' Brief

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(from left) Genevieve Younce, Sholom Goodman and Britt Karp

Southwestern's team of Britt Karp (SCALE II), Sholom Goodman and Genevieve Younce (both third-year day) won Best Respondents' Brief at the Pepperdine University School of Law National Entertainment Law Moot Court Competition. The team also reached the semi-finals, finishing in the top four out of 26 teams from law schools throughout the country. Southwestern defeated competitors from DePaul University College of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School and George Mason University School of Law.

According to Professor David Fagundes, the team's faculty advisor, "Pepperdine annually hosts the nation's premier entertainment law moot court competition. This year's problem required participants to master complex statutory interpretation and policy issues relating to the Federal Copyright Act. All three team members demonstrated impressive mastery of this challenging subject matter. In both preliminary and elimination rounds, judges singled out oralists Sholi and Genevieve for their poise, professionalism and preparation, while Britt, the team's writer, received glowing praise from tournament directors for her first-place brief."

Younce explained that the brief was approached as a team effort, but gave the most credit to Karp, who served as the head writer and worked diligently to make the brief accessible to readers who were not necessarily copyright experts. Karp also finished the brief while she completed her SCALE finals. "Sholi did a ton of research and really worked hard to understand the problem from every possible angle so that we could include original and creative arguments," Younce said. "And I really worked hard to make sure the brief was presented well, and our language was clear.  It was a great collaboration, and we're really proud of the result!"

Younce also credited Southwestern's faculty and alumni with helping the team prepare so well for the competition. "Our faculty advisor, Professor Fagundes, several other Southwestern law professors, and some alumni, as well, volunteered their time to judge our practice rounds, which gave us the opportunity to break down the issues even further with their feedback and thoughts," she said. "We would not have been able to do so well without their help! Once we reached competition, Professor Fagundes gave us detailed notes after every round so that we continued to improve throughout the competition."

The problem the team argued and wrote about focused on an artist suing a promotional company for copyright infringement. In an effort to recover losses after a record flopped, the promotional company began selling songs from the album on iTunes, even though the contract with the musician was to only sell physical copies. The artist sued the promotional company for copyright infringement. The problem focused on two emerging issues of copyright law: 1) does copyright registration occur once the application is received by the Copyright Office or after a certificate by the Office is issued and under section 504(c) of the Copyright Act and 2) how many awards of statutory damages are proper for the infringements of the songs in an album if an album is found to be a compilation.


Southwestern Wins Corporate Moot Court Competition

The winning combination of a dedicated team and a knowledgeable coach coalesced into triumph at the 22nd Annual Ruby R. Vale Interschool Corporate Moot Court Competition in Wilmington, Delaware. Southwestern's team of oralists Patricia Rosman and Brian Yeretzian and writer/alternate oralist Crystal Lara won the entire competition, defeating teams from 22 other law schools nationwide.

Southwestern's team - all second-year day students - had to argue two separate issues: the validity of shareholder-created bylaws and a board of directors' fiduciary duty to a corporation and its shareholders. "We really immersed ourselves in corporate law and understood our issues on a deeper level than other teams," Lara said. "That's what set us apart, that and our creative arguments."

She was excited to participate in a competition with prominent legal professionals such as Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor William T. Allen, who judged the final round with Delaware Supreme Court Justices Jack B. Jacobs and Henry duPont Ridgely and Delaware Court of Chancery Vice Chancellors Donald F. Parsons, Jr. and J. Travis Laster. As swing oralist, Lara got to argue in the very first round and explained that unlike some of the other teams, Southwestern had to work off brief twice in the preliminaries.

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Final Round Judges with team members (front, from left) Crystal Lara, Patricia Rosman and Brian Yeretzian.


Southwestern beat University of Miami School of Law in the first preliminary round, John Marshall Law School in the second preliminary round and in the Octa-finals, Capital University School of Law in the third preliminary round, William Mitchell College of Law in the Semi-finals, and Mercer University School of Law in the Finals. Some of the other participating teams included American University -Washington College of Law, Brooklyn Law School, Chicago Kent College of Law, Georgetown University, Marquette University Law School, Tulane University Law School and Villanova University School of Law.

"The team won because they never stopped thinking about their arguments; they never got to a point where they thought their arguments were 'good enough,'" said Professor Katherine Sheehan, who served as coach. "Every round was better and more interesting than the previous one. With each round they became more and more engaged with bleeding-edge issues of corporate law and how to resolve them. The final bench commented particularly on the 'creativity' of their arguments."

Lara explained that while teammate Yeretzian had completed Business Associations, both she and Rosman are still taking the course, which added to the challenge in a corporate law competition. But their coach made sure they were prepared. "Professor Sheehan was the one who really made us delve into the problem further. She really forced us to understand it more holistically," she said.

Artin Ghrabian, chair of the Moot Court Honors Program, served as the team advisor and was proud of what they accomplished. "One of the most important attributes of a moot court member is the ability to work within time constraints while juggling classes and outside responsibilities - all within a team dynamic," he said. "I have never seen a team so determined and focused... Also, Professor Sheehan's dedication, passion, and active involvement was critical to their success."

 

Moot Court Team Returns from Stetson Competition with Honors

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(from left) Kamela Laird, Gibran Bouayed and Silviana Dumitrescu

At the recent Stetson Moot Court Competition held in Orange County, the Southwestern team of Gibran Bouayed, Silviana Dumitrescu and Kamela Laird earned Third Place, and Laird was named Second Place Oralist. They argued  a problem that centered on the necessity of conducting an environmental impact assessment in the face of underwater air gun blasting, and the international consequences associated with not performing the assessment.
 
Southwestern's team beat out those representing law schools from Kansas, Hawaii, and Washington before placing behind teams from Maryland and Hastings. "Preparing for the competition included fifteen grueling practice rounds in front of professors, practicing judges, alumni and fellow moot court members," said Laird, a second-year evening student. "But every practice round was worth it... when I arrived at the competition, there wasn't a single question from the judges that I hadn't heard five times before!"

 

Moot Court Team Places Second in National Sports Law Competition

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(from left) Jennifer Yuen, Wendy Tseng and Parrisa Peik

They made it look easy in the Big Easy. Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program continued its tradition of success as writer Wendy Tseng and oralists Jennifer Yuen and Parrisa Peik earned a Second Place finish at the 2010 Mardi Gras Sports Law Moot Court Competition in New Orleans.

The competition took place at Tulane University Law School and the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans. Southwestern's team competed against more than 40 law schools, including teams from Yale, Harvard, UC Hastings, New York Law School, UNLV and Arizona State. This competition dealt with sports law in the labor context, specifically exploring issues of preemption and arbitration awards.

Southwestern's team spent approximately three months preparing their brief and oral arguments. "Until the end of competition, the team lived and breathed this problem," Tseng said. "In addition to our own efforts in preparation, our team had a fantastic support system."

Professor Lon Sobel served as the team's faculty advisor. "Team members educated themselves concerning areas of law that were not covered in any of their courses," he explained. "Going all the way to the finals in a competition with 40 teams speaks for itself about how well they advocated. The first time these team members go to court as licensed lawyers, it should be a piece of cake for all of them."

The team also received support from alumnus adviser Oliver Vasquez '00 and Moot Court board advisor Anne Cheung. Team members expressed gratitude to other professors, notably Professor Cameron, and practitioners who took the time to come judge the team's 14 practice rounds prior to competition. "From an oralist's perspective, the support team really helped build a strong foundation both forensically and substantively, which gave us the confidence and stamina to argue so many rounds," Yuen said. "Having their support both before and during the competition was invaluable."

 

Wagner Team Wins Best Respondent Brief,
Second Place Oralist

Second Place Oralist
From left: Reyes, Dumitru and Weiner
Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program team of Carlo Reyes, Alma Dumitru, and Matt Weiner excelled at the Robert F. Wagner Labor and Employment Law Competition, winning Best Respondents' Brief. Matt Weiner also won Second Place Oralist

and the team finished overall as semifinalists. The team argued a problem exploring two issues: whether mid-level employees should be deemed supervisors under the National Labor Relations Act, a determination that could bar millions of employees from union representation; and whether a disabled employee is entitled to automatic reassignment to a vacant position under the reasonable accommodation provision of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Southwestern's team defeated law students from New York University, Pepperdine University, Penn State, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock before besting University of Hastings in the Quarterfinals. They narrowly lost to Northern Kentucky University in the Semifinal Round.

Reyes, a third-year PLEAS student, father of four girls, and a full-time Emergency Medicine physician, served as the swing oralist and brief writer for the Wagner Team. He said, "The most important experience gained by participating in Moot Court is the opportunity to work as part of a team - to find a way for three strong-minded individuals to collaborate effectively to produce something special."

Weiner is a two-time Second Place Oralist, having also competed in the ABA National Moot Court Competition last year. Professor Christopher Cameron, who has served as faculty advisor for the Wagner competition for 11 years, said of Weiner's performance, "Matt's unflappable demeanor, encyclopedic knowledge of the law and record, and persuasiveness were commented upon by many judges as the best they'd seen." He also praised the team's performance, saying, "In 11 years of competing at Wagner, this was Southwestern's third Best Brief and fourth Semi-Final appearance. The team was incredible."

 

International Finals
From left: Roston, Houchen and Colunga
Stetson Moot Court Team Advances to International Finals

At the Pacific Regional Round of the Stetson International Environmental Law Competition held at Santa Clara Law School on January 23 and 24, members of Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program earned Second Place Team and Second Place Memorial (brief). Oralists Kristen Houchen and Anthony Colunga, and writer Matt Roston performed extremely well - Houchen was named Best Oralist in the final round, and the team's outstanding showing secured them an invitation to the International Finals at Stetson University College of Law, in Gulfport, Florida, at the end of March.

"International environmental law is one of the more difficult competitions to compete in because the students haven't taken courses in these areas of law and they had to do all of their research from scratch," said Melanie Partow '04, the team's alumna advisor, who also coached the Southwestern team that returned home with a First Place win in the International Competition in 2006. "The one thing that boded well for them is that they never stopped researching. The case law in this area is not like it is in the U.S. The decisions are hundreds of pages long. They did phenomenally well and walked away with more awards than any other school at the regional competition."

 

Wechsler Team Earns First Place Award

First Place Award
Cohen-Mays, Azat and Weinstein

Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program team of Michael Azat, Leah Cohen-Mays and Jillian Weinstein earned First Place in the Burton D. Wechsler First Amendment Moot Court Competition held at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., October 23-25. Among other teams, Southwestern triumphed over the finalist team from Cleveland Marshall College of Law, as well as teams from Brooklyn Law School and Florida International University in the semi-finals, and Stetson University College of Law, South Texas College of Law and Thomas Jefferson School of Law, among others in earlier rounds.

First Place Award
Rodriguez (far left) with the team

Southwestern alumna Zee Rodriguez '99, an appellate prosecutor for eight years who served as the team's advisor, said the students were well organized and prepared. "[They understood that] judges don't want a regurgitation of the brief," she said. "Our team's ability to answer questions in their own words and use cases to support their positions really paid off in the final rounds."

"It felt great to help continue the national recognition our school deserves," team member Leah Cohen-Mays said, "and arguing at the Court of Appeals in front of real judges was amazing. Their comments and advice were invaluable."

The appellate issue explored whether a public university professor's assignment of a grade constitutes speech and if so, does that right of speech belong to the university or the professor? Southwestern's teams traditionally perform well at the Wechsler competition, and were finalists last year.


Prince Team Earns Second Place Brief

Southwestern continued its superior performance in the Moot Court arena when the team of Danielle Ochi, Raheleh (Rachelle) Mehrinfar and Rosemary Do traveled to Brooklyn Law School to compete in the 23rd Annual Dean Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition. The team won Second Place Brief and reached the semi-final round, winding up in the top four out of 38 entrants. Southwestern's team defeated Emory and Georgetown in early rounds and bested San Diego in the quarterfinals. "We can be very proud of the team's performance in this incredibly difficult competition," the team's Faculty Advisor Professor Garland said.

 

Wagner Team Takes Brief Honors

At New York Law School's Robert F. Wagner, Sr. Labor and Employment Law Moot Court Competition, the Southwestern team took Second Place Respondents' Brief and advanced to the semifinals in the top four out of 42 teams.

During the quarterfinals, oralists Matt Soroky and Mark Abell and writer Lindsay Schwartz defeated Charlotte School of Law to advance to the Final Four where they lost a very close match to Northern Kentucky. Competition officials said the final four teams were within one point of each other. "For me, the best part was watching three young people transform themselves from students into professional advocates in just two months' time," Associate Dean Christopher Cameron, the team's coach, said. "I am very proud of them."

 

Southwestern Team Takes Top Honors at National Telecommunications Competition

Southwestern's Andy Owen, Lee Previant, and Celia Beckwith bested 10 other teams from around the country to win the 2008 National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition with the First Place Team Award, and Owen was also named Best Oralist. The competition, held in Washington D.C. in February, was based on telephone regulation and national security issues. The event was cosponsored by the Catholic University of America-Columbus School of Law Institute for Communications Law Studies and the Federal Communications Bar Association.

National Telecommunications Competition
Professor Epstein with Andy Owen, Celia Beckwith and Lee Previant

The team spent their winter break working on the problem. "We represented a wireless telephone company that offered a separate text-messaging service called SubText," Previent said. "Our job was to stop the government, via the FCC, from implementing access standards that would allow law enforcement agencies to plug into the system and obtain call-identifying information."

Working on the brief during the winter break until mid January, the team tackled the challenges of working on what Owen called "the complexity of the issues and the nebulous nature of telecommunications law.... Our wonderful board advisor, Julia Romano, put us on a strict practice round schedule for the entire month. Our brief writer, Celia, did the lion's share of the writing for her excellent brief."

In announcing the team's victory, Professor Michael Epstein, the team's coach, said, "I am very proud of this team. They worked hard to tackle a very difficult problem. The judges, including current and former senior FCC attorneys, offered unanimous praise of our students' oral skills and substantive knowledge.

"I was thrilled to see our school's reputation as a 'telecommunications powerhouse' in evidence at the competition," he said. "Although schools were not identified to judges during the arguments, CUA moot court students reported to me later that a number of judges were 'guessing' that ours was the 'Southwestern Team.' During the awards reception, lawyers from the Federal Communications Bar Association swarmed around our team not only to congratulate them, but to continue to argue the issues. A number of lawyers even asked our students if they would consider summer associate positions in Washington!"

"Our team was calm," Previent said. "We felt very confident in our arguments and knew with all the help from Southwestern's Moot Court Program, Board, and Professors, we were well prepared."

Owen attributes the outstanding preparation the team received from Professor Epstein as well as the coaches. He also attributes his success as Best Oralist to the foundation of his moot court experience: LAWS. "Another that may have given me an edge was not using any notes. It was something that Professor Graver, my second semester LAWS professor, said would help an oralist because it would allow you to really focus on the judges' questions and treat the interaction more like a conversation."


Moot Court Teams Return from First Amendment and Entertainment Law Competitions with Honors

Upholding its tradition in excellence in the Moot Court arena, Southwestern's teams excelled at the Burton D. Wechsler First Amendment Moot Court Competition held in early November in Washington, D.C., as well as at the Tenth Annual National Entertainment Law Moot Court Competition held in mid-November at Pepperdine Law School in Malibu.

Entertainment Law Competitions
(From left) Linet Bidrossian, Nick Francescon, Professor Catherine Carpenter (standing) and Julia Romano.
The Weschler team, consisting of writer Nick Francescon and oralists Julia Romano and Linet Bidrossian competed against 30 other teams and earned Second Place after a close 3 to 2 vote in the final round. Francescon's brief also garnered Second Place and Romano won the Best Finalist Oralist award.

 

In the competition, Southwestern's team represented a law school that was sued by a religious student organization, Lawyers for Christ (LFC). The law school denied LFC official recognition, claiming that the organization's bylaws requiring all members to sign a faith pledge condemning sexual activity outside of marriage, including homosexual conduct. The law school contended that these rules discriminated against homosexuals and violated the school's policy. LFC claimed that the school's actions violated both its First Amendment right to expressive association and the Establishment Clause. "As counsel for the school, we argued that the school did not violate LFC's expressive association rights because the school's policy permissibly regulates conduct, not speech," Romano said. "Similarly, the school's policy comports with the Establishment Clause because the policy was neutral, generally applicable, and did not promote or prohibit any particular religion."

Romano, a third-year day student, said that dealing with the "hard" facts of the problem was a challenge. "There were a few facts in the problem that seemed completely against our side but we were creative and addressed them - either arguing why those facts were irrelevant or why they were actually favorable to our side. I guess that is the art (and the fun!) of appellate advocacy."

Preparation, experience (Francescon, who serves as Moot Court Chair, is also a third-year day student, and Bidrossian is in SCALE II) and teamwork helped Southwestern's trio prepare. "Our team got along famously which I think really gave us the edge. We were all so positive and so supportive of each other throughout the entire process that by the time we got to competition we were really ready to compete - both substantively and mentally."

Romano also credits Professor Carpenter and Board Advisor Lindsay Harrell's contributions to the team's success. "This team worked incredible hard and very well together from the first moment that the problem was received," Professor Carpenter said. "Their chemistry was terrific."

Entertainment Law team
(from left) Tara Rose, Shara Davenport and  Jessica Munoz

The National Entertainment Law team consisting of oralists Jessica Munoz and Tara Rose, and swing Shara Davenport competed against 22 other teams, including Fordham Law School, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Michigan State University College of Law, University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law and UC Hastings College of the Law, and earned the First Place Respondent Brief award. Rose argued issues regarding whether an online service provider is secondarily liable if it can show substantial non-infringing uses and whether the copyright holder supplied sufficient notice to the online service provider as required by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Munoz argued whether a website's use of its name constitutes a prior use in commerce under the Lantham Act as compared with another and whether use of a trademark as a metatag is an infringing activity under the Lantham Act. Rose is a fourth-year evening student and December graduate, Munoz is a second-year day student, and Davenport is a second-year day student who won the Best Brief award at Southwestern’s Intramural Moot Court Competition last year. The team was advised by Professors Robert Lind and Lon Sobel, as well as Moot Court Board Member Kim Roque.

 

Moot Court Team Returns from Stetson Competition International Champions

Stetson Competition International Champions
Darnell and Engel Perero
Southwestern's Moot Court program continues to shine, as Katie Darnell and James Engel Perero won the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

held November 8-11 in Tampa, Florida. Participating teams competed in two phases: a regional (national) qualifying competition against law schools from the U.S. and Australia, and an international competition against top teams from around the world.

 

Southwestern's team finished as finalists in the regional round, which qualified them to advance to the international competition. In addition, Darnell earned the honor of Second Place Oralist in the regional portion of the event. In the international round, Darnell and Engel Perero competed against teams from John Marshall and Hastings, as well as international teams from Brazil, India, and Sydney, Australia. In the end, the Southwestern team prevailed in front of a bench of international environmental law scholars, practitioners, and human rights attorneys. Darnell also earned the Best Oralist title in the international round. "We are proud to add this great achievement to a long line of Southwestern moot court titles," Dean Bryant Garth said.

The team spent several weeks preparing for the competition, working on a problem that concerned two fictitious nations: a big country, "DeLand" and its lack of greenhouse gas regulation killing the coral reefs of a small country, "Acropora." Acropora - Latin for coral - sued DeLand.

"We were the respondent. We were the 'bad guy'," said Darnell, a second-year student in the SCALE (Southwestern's Conceptual Approach to Legal Education) program. "I think we won because we went a step further. Industry self regulation is a valid policy and we substantiated our arguments."

Engel Perero pointed out the 14 practice rounds they worked at during a six week period with a variety of practitioners and advisors judging helped them prepare as well. "Our hope was to qualify for international," said Engel Perero, a second-year day program student. "So we exceeded our highest expectations."

While the Sydney team defeated Southwestern three times in the qualifying and preliminary rounds, Southwestern had higher oral scores in those rounds and was able to win across the board in the international round.

Southwestern alumni, which included two members of last year's Second Place team of the same competition - Nanette Reed '06 and Edward Wiley '06 - along with Melanie Partow '04, advised this year's winning team. "Of particular note is our team's success over the team from Sydney, Australia. It was well deserved," Partow said.


National Telecommunications Competition & Wechsler Moot Court Competition - Two First Place Teams

In early February of 2006, Southwestern became the unofficial king of moot court in the nation's capital, taking first place in the National Telecommunications Competition and the Wechsler Moot Court Competition, both of which were held in Washington D.C.

Southwestern's win in the National Telecommunications Competition, a Federal Communications Bar Association event held at Catholic University, was particularly impressive, since it was the first time the law school had participated in that event. "While I had hoped that our debut would at least be credible, our excellent team of Bill Frank, David Bodnariuk, and Zeina Jafar stunned the competition with first-rate arguments round after round," said Professor Michael Epstein, who coached the team. "Word spread quickly after the preliminary rounds among student competitors that newcomer Southwestern was the team to beat."

National Telecommunications Competition Competition Winners
National Telecommunications Competition Team (from left) Team Advisor Professor Michael Epstein, Zeina Jafar, David Bodnariuk and Bill Frank

In the final round against Georgetown, the case concerned whether imposing a family-friendly programming tier on cable television systems would unfairly restrict free speech. The teams faced a tough bench consisting of Judge Karen L. Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Matthew Berry, Deputy General Counsel at the FCC; and Robert Corn-Revere, the partner at Davis Wright Tremaine whose arguments in a number of recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court helped frame the issues being argued. Ultimately, the Southwestern team successfully argued that the regulation was within the FCC's administrative authority and that the family-friendly tier could actually enhance free speech overall.

"They don't usually get schools west of the Beltway in this competition," said Frank, a third-year evening student. "We basically beat them on their topic in their own backyard." Professor Epstein praised the students' "mastery" of the law and the record, adding, "It's a tribute to Bill, David and Zeina that, after the final rounds, lawyers from the Federal Communications Bar Association invited us to open an FCBA chapter at Southwestern."

Across town at American University, Southwestern's team of Menely Lari-Joni, Beth Hayes and Rebecca Jannol advanced to the final round of the Wechsler Competition, beating out 23 law schools including William and Mary, the University of Illinois, St. Thomas University, Santa Clara and Seton Hall. Professor Catherine Carpenter, who coached the team, said the students were unstoppable. "The team performed beautifully," she said. "They grew with each round, and by the last one, they were on fire."

Wechsler Competition
(from left) Judge Reginald Walton, Elizabeth Hayes, Menely Lari-Joni, Chief Judge Edwin Stern and Judge Sharon Prost (Rebecca Jannol not pictured)

In the final round, Southwestern squared off against Brooklyn Law School before a bench that included Hon. Sharon Prost, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals; Hon. Edward Stern, New Jersey Court of Appeals; and Judge Reggie Walton, Federal District Court. The case concerned a high school principal who was fired after adding Islamic symbols to a mural honoring the victims of 9/11. The Southwestern team successfully argued that the firing was unjust, since the principal was protected by the First Amendment - and that his actions did not run afoul of the establishment clause because of his secular purpose. "We wrote petitioner's side and argued petitioner in three of our four rounds, and in the fifth round we argued off-brief as respondent and won the competition," said Professor Carpenter. "That was incredibly exciting."

 

Stetson Moot Court Team
Steve Heyn, Nanette Reed & Edward Wiley
Stetson International Moot Court Competition
Regional (National) Second Place Team, Second Place Brief and Third Place Oralist; International First and Second Place Oralist and
Quarterfinalist Team

Southwestern's team of Nanette Reed, Edward Wiley and Steve Heyn returned triumphant from the Tenth Annual Stetson International Moot Court Competition. The 60 participating teams competed in two phases: a Regional (National) qualifying round against other U.S. law schools and International finals, against top teams from the U.K., Australia, and India. The Southwestern team brought home Second Place Team (Finalist), Second Place Brief/Memorial and Third Place Individual Oralist (Reed) awards in the Regional Round, and First (Wiley) and Second (Reed) Individual Oralist awards and Quarterfinalist team in the International Round.

The Regional Round
The team defeated Cleveland-Marshall, University of Maryland, University of Hawaii, University of San Diego and Michigan State University in the Regional Competition, while narrowly losing to Pepperdine University in the finals. Faculty Advisor Professor Austen Parrish said, "San Diego and Hawaii have dominated the competition in recent years, and the wins over those teams were impressive. No other school earned awards in all three categories."

The International Round

Southwestern's team also performed well in the International round, competing against teams from the U.S., as well as the U.K., Australia and India. Southwestern won all of the preliminary rounds - including a defeat of Pepperdine University in a rematch of the National finals and Queensland University of Technology - last year's champions.

In the International Quarterfinals, the team defeated West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (Kolkata, India), whose team advanced and ultimately won first place in the competition (due to a low quarterfinal raw point score, the Southwestern team was not able to move on).

 

Craven Team
 
J. Braxton Craven Moot Court Competition
First Place Team and Best Brief

Celeste Brecht, Zeina Hamzeh, and Steve Heyn argued the 11th Amendment's relationship with federal court jurisdiction and how state sovereign immunity applies to school boards, in addition to the application of free exercise of religion and 14th Amendment substantive due process rights to religious parents in school settings. The team defeated the University of Cincinnati, NYU, Wake Forest and Fordham University in the preliminary, octa- and quarter-final rounds, to go up against Seton Hall in the semi-final round. They then achieved victory after facing Florida State University in the final round.

Their team advisor, Professor Karen Smith said, "Celeste, Zeina and Steve were awesome, impressing the bench with their knowledge of the Federalist Papers and deconstructing Wisconsin v. Yoder! It was a pleasure to work with such talented, hardworking, appreciative students who left everyone they encountered at the competition singing the praises of Southwestern."

 

Second Place Team
 
William H. Spong First Amendment
Moot Court Competition
Second Place Team

Spong advocates Graydon Schlichter, Danielle Sundberg, and Jennifer Ollington (with principal brief-writing duties and also an oralist for one round) argued issues in constitutional criminal law focused on the Fourth and Sixth Amendments, loosely based on the Washington sniper incident – the illegal seizure of a rifle found during a traffic stop and the defendant's right to waive the assistance of counsel and to represent himself. The team, advised by Professor Paul Horwitz and coached by third-year day student Leah Bolea, competed in a pool of twenty teams, finishing behind Fordham University.

Professor Horwitz said, "The Spong competition featured as strong a lineup of judges as I have ever seen at a moot competition. Almost everyone who judged the Southwestern team, from the preliminary rounds through the finals, was a state court appellate judge or state Supreme Court justice, or a federal district judge. It was a terrific - and daunting - lineup. Throughout the competition, Graydon, Danielle, and Jennifer performed superbly, with great skill and confidence. I was deeply proud of their performance."

 

Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition
Second Place Team and Best Final Round Oralist

The team of Jennifer Dolan, Silva Megerditchian and Julia Sullivan argued a problem regarding the issues of whether recorded statements to a 911 operator are admissible, and whether a defendant can be compelled to produce his personal diary if it will deny him his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Advised by Professors Anahid Gharakhanian and Austen Parrish, they defeated teams from Georgetown University, New York University, Villanova University and the University of North Carolina.

"Julia, Jennifer and Silva represented Southwestern extremely well with a spectacular performance. A justice from the quarterfinal bench said that the Southwestern advocates were one of the strongest, if not the strongest, team she had seen in over a decade of judging the Prince competition. In the final round, they orally outscored a Hastings team before a very difficult bench. Unfortunately, the oral score was not high enough to overcome the Hastings' brief, which was worth 40% of the final score," said Professor Parrish.