Southwestern Takes Top Team and Brief Awards at National Moot Court Competition
At the Howard University School of Law Bryant-Moore Moot Court Competition held February 28 and March 1 in Washington, D.C. Southwestern's Moot Court team demonstrated their outstanding advocacy skills. Oralists Kenneth Korosi and Talia Leibovic won First Place, and Yi-Hsuan Lin was awarded Best Brief. Southwestern triumphed in the national civil rights competition that included eight teams, defeating Georgetown in the semi-finals and American University in the final round. Other participating schools included teams from Brooklyn Law School, University of North Carolina School of Law and North Carolina Central Law School.
"We started preparing for the competition the moment the problem came out in late November," Korosi said. The two oralists helped research each issue they would argue, and all three team members discussed the best approach to the brief. "After we submitted the brief, Talia and I began oral practice rounds with professors and practitioners alike. I cannot thank enough the volunteers that helped judge our practice rounds."
Korosi credits the team's chemistry, communication and sense of ease for their success. "Talia, Yi-Hsuan, and our coach, Professor Alexandra D'Italia, provided a great support system during competition," he said. "Questions during competition mirrored those of our practice rounds, so Professor D'Italia deserves a ton of credit for coordinating the practice rounds as well as giving us feedback and homework after every round."
Leibovic said the team knew they had an extremely well-written brief going into the competition. "But finding out after the first day of preliminary rounds that we had been seeded first because of our brief and oral skills gave us a tremendous advantage going into the second day of competition," she explained. "Even with this boost (of confidence), we never became over-confident, and we took the rest of the competition one round at a time."
Professor D'Italia said the team was a joy to coach. "Even when they were researching and writing the brief, these three students demanded the best work from one another - and did so in a supportive and professional way," she said. "Yi-Hsuan wrote a persuasive brief. She has grown so much as a writer this past year. And with more than 15 practice rounds under their belt, Talia and Ken were confident in their presentations."
The team argued two issues; the first dealt with the search-incident-to-lawful-arrest exception and whether law enforcement can use that exception to search the digital contents of an arrestee's smartphone. The second issue concerned a federal rule of evidence as well as Fifth and Sixth Amendment violations and whether courts should review post-verdict testimony regarding juror racial bias. The team had to prepare and argue both sides of the issues during the competition.
"They not only engaged the bench when it was cold, they more than held their own when a judge would not let them finish a sentence," Professor D'Italia explained. "I've never seen two oralists so unflappable while maintaining their persuasive stance and managing to make their key points. Finally, and importantly, these three students modeled the professionalism we teach at Southwestern. They were gracious winners, congratulating each team on a job well done, thanking each judge for his or her time. Howard is looking forward to having us back next year. We'll be there."