From the Desk of . . . The Moot Court Executive Board (MCEB)

Robert Grey

Robert Grey is the negotiation namesake.

By: Thomas Griffin, 3L
MCEB Chair

As the semester quickly begins to wrap up, I wanted to take this time to look back on what has been an excellent fall for the Moot Court Board and also to look forward to what is ahead. The Board has enjoyed two successful school-wide competitions—while one continues—and our external teams begin their quests for success shortly.

The fall semester for Moot Court began with a rush. Not one day after beginning classes did the 2 and 3Ls get an opportunity to sign up for the Robert J. Grey Negotiation Competition. Just two days after that, registration for the John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy Competition began. Negotiations had 38 teams of two compete, and Davis enjoyed over 50 individual competitors.

Our Negotiations competitors negotiated in four different rounds. The first round saw teams negotiate an investment into a ridesharing company similar to Uber or Lyft. The second round took a more adversarial turn as a television station negotiated a solution with a television writer regarding an inflammatory sketch on a show similar to Saturday Night Live. Our semifinal round was the most unique because it pitted prosecutors against a charged defendant as they negotiated a plea deal. Finally, the last round saw the final four teams negotiate a deal to bring a luxury hotel to Cuba in response to changing economic and political climates in the country. Each round tested the competitors in a different way and led to champions who are well-rounded negotiators.

The finals, on September 27, were an excellent display of negotiating skill. The finalists included teams of Dory Ille and Danielle Novelly; Patrick Hanlon and Kiersten Holms; Alex Shoaf and Zac Crawford; and Cole Bollman and Michael DiBiaggio. Our winning team was Alex Shoaf and Zac Crawford with Dory Ille and Danielle Novelly as the runners-up. The board was thrilled to welcome a final panel of Robert J. Grey Jr., Andrea Wahlquist, and Alvin Brown who judged the finals and gave excellent feedback to the competitors. The Negotiation chairs, Kit Thomas and Stephen Edwards, as well as Board Vice Chair, Danielle Wise, worked tirelessly to put on an excellent competition.

While Negotiations was in full swing, the Davis competitors began their brief-writing. This year’s problem saw a criminal defendant object to police officers’ search and seizure when he was openly carrying a firearm by claiming that the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. After completing their briefs, Petitioners and Respondents had an opportunity to argue both for the side they briefed as well as the opposite side.

After these rounds and another round judged by the student panel, our semifinalists had an opportunity to argue in front of a distinguished faculty panel including Professors Shaughnessy, Shapiro, and MacDonnell. After argument, the professors named Chase Cobb, Danielle Phillips, Dianne Gremillion, and Patrick Hanlon as finalists.

On October 19, the finals judges included Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale of the Fifth Circuit, Justice D. Arthur Kelsey of the Virginia Supreme Court, and Mr. Elbert Lin, the former Solicitor General of West Virginia. The panel heard arguments from our finalists and named Chase Cobb as winner and Patrick Hanlon as the runner up. Like the Negotiations chairs, the Davis chairs, Alan Carrillo, Matt Donahue, and Ian Huyett, put on an excellent competition.

Still ongoing is Mock Trial. Co-chairs Corey Lipschutz and Jackie Hacker have created an excellent wrongful death claim that is testing our competitors well. Our 23 teams are advocating for their clients, and we are looking forward to the finals which will be November 14.

External competitions are also beginning, with our first competition being in negotiations. The Board is sending competitors to the American Bar Association Negotiations Competition as well as the William and Mary Negotiations Competition. The first competition will be November 3-4, and the second is the very next weekend.

Next semester, the Board will put on the Client Counseling as well as the Mediation Competitions in January and February. We will also field teams for external competitions in appellate advocacy, mock trial, client counseling, and mediation. We look forward to continuing a great year of Moot Court!

Categories: Columns