Moot Court Succeeds at National Invitation Tournament

Moot CourtThe University’s moot court program finished its second year strong this past weekend with the two-student team of Nick Whittaker and Joe Talafous representing the Hawk spirit at the 2015 National Invitational Tournament hosted by the University of Chicago. 

Based on their performance in the fall semester at a regional tournament in Iowa City, Whittaker and Talafous were invited to this national tournament and showcased their skills of oral advocacy, rhetoric and persuasive argumentation to a panel of judges over three rounds.  

They competed in an incredibly strong field of 20 teams, including teams from universities such as Loyola University – Chicago, Loras College, Eastern Illinois University, Notre Dame College, the University of St. Thomas in Canada, Merrimack College, the University of North Texas and the University of Chicago.  

The Monmouth team managed to win one ballot by 35 points (on a 100-point scale) in the third round against one of the advancing teams and lost by only two points on two other separate ballots in round two and only five points on one ballot in the first round.  

The Monmouth moot court hawks kept it incredibly close in a very competitive field and ended the 2014-2015 competition season on a high note, going into the next year of tournaments energized and ready. 

A round of congratulations goes to all moot court student-teams who represented Monmouth with pride this academic year: Ashley Gucker and Samah Khalifa; Mike Hamilton and Dan Roman; and Angela Ryan and Harmony Bailey.  

The team and Gregory Bordelon would very much like to thank the Monmouth faculty who gave up their precious time to help in judging Whittaker and Talafous’s arduous scrimmages and practices in the weeks leading up to the competition, specifically: Dr. Rekha Datta, a professor of political science and sociology; Paul Savoth, an associate professor of accounting; and Joe McManus, Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship.

The moot court problem this year involved two issues under the U.S. Constitution: one as to whether a law passed by the fictitious state of Olympus created a constitutional burden to a woman seeking an abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment, and another as to whether a mandated script required by the same statute for physicians to read to their patients violated the physician’s right to free speech under the First Amendment.

Tournament competition is under the auspices of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA); the annual tournament structure generally begins in either May or June of a year with the release of a hypothetical problem with at least two legal issues under the U.S. Constitution.  

The problem is designed to showcase students’ persuasive advocacy skills on “both sides” of the issue – petitioner(s) arguing against the constitutionality of a state statute and a respondent state entity arguing in support of that statute’s constitutional validity.

As Monmouth moot court enters its third year in the 2015-16 academic year and mock trial its fourth, all students interested in intercollegiate legal forensic competition are invited to find out more. 

The best avenue for the most information is to sign up for the pre-law club mailing list (pink forms on the legal studies outside of Bey Hall 244, Bordelon’s office).  Information sessions and practices will begin in September for next year’s teams. 

For more information on moot court, contact 2015-2016 court team leader, Whittaker (s0893131@monmouth.edu).  For more information on mock trial, contact 2015-2016 team captain, Stephen Lang (s0880503@monmouth.edu). Of course, all students are always welcome to contact Bordelon (bordelon@monmouth.edu) for information on legal studies and pre-law advising.

PHOTO COURTESY of Gregory Bordelon