Southwestern Takes Top Prize in Two Moot Court Competitions
This past weekend, 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."
In the final round against George Washington University, 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."
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."
For more information on Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program, click here.