Mason Law Students Take Top Moot Court Prize

Posted: February 26, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The team from Mason’s University School of Law won the 17th Annual National First Amendment Moot Court Competition held at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University on Friday. Winning team members were Al Clarke and Samantha Mortlock.

The competition this year focused on a hypothetical case involving commercial speech, specifically attorney advertising. Teams of student advocates from 35 law schools argued both sides of complex legal issues involving whether a state regulation of lawyer ads is constitutional.

The demanding competition requires students to write an appellate brief and to answer challenging legal questions from panels of judges. The event requires a thorough understanding of First Amendment law, poise under pressure and expertise in fielding complex legal questions.

“It was an intimidating experience, but also it was a truly great honor to argue in front of a panel of such distinguished jurists,” said Clarke.

Added Mortloc, “I’m taking a First Amendment class this semester, and next week we are discussing commercial speech — I think I’ll be ready to talk in class on the subject.”

A total of $5,000 in prizes was awarded to:

  • Winning team ($2,000): George Mason University School of Law

  • Runner-up ($1,000): Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

  • Semifinalists ($500 each): Brooklyn Law School and University of Georgia School of Law

  • Best brief ($500): University of Georgia School of Law

  • Best oralist ($500): Ryan Faulconer, University of Virginia School of Law

Receiving gavels were:

  • Runner-up best brief: Brooklyn Law School

  • Runner-up best oralist: Kyle Unser, University of Arkansas School of Law

“This annual competition provides future lawyers with an opportunity to consider fundamental questions about our basic freedoms, this year focusing on an emerging area, commercial speech,” said Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center.

Semifinal- and final-round judges in the 2007 competition included, from the federal judiciary: Steven Colloton, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Martha Craig Daughtrey, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Robert Echols, district judge, Middle District of Tennessee; Sidney Fitzwater, district judge, Northern District of Texas; Julia Smith Gibbons, 6th Circuit; Marian Harrison, bankruptcy judge, Middle District of Tennessee; William J. Haynes Jr., district judge, Middle District of Tennessee; and Aleta A. Trauger, district judge, Middle District of Tennessee. Joining them from the state judiciary were Cornelia A. Clark and Gary R. Wade, Tennessee Supreme Court.

The First Amendment Center is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum.

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