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Moot Court Honor Society Team Performs Well at Jessup Competition in Portland

March 12, 2013

Portalnd Team

From February 28th to March 3rd, the Moot Court Honor Society’s Jessup team participated in the 54th Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Portland, Oregon, impressing both the judges and their team faculty advisor.

“The team of Jesse Allen, Susy Prochazka, Cristina Kinsella, Adrieannette Ciccone, and Zac Ruetz was outstanding,” said TJSL Professor and TeamAdvisor Linda Keller.  “They’ve worked since last summer on an incredibly complex problem in a very difficult competition.”

“They represented TJSL so well, for example, winning oral rounds against Whittier College and the University of Denver, the latter of which went on to the final rounds of the competition. TJSL’s Memorials (the briefs) tied for 7th best written submission in the Western regional rounds of the mock International Court of Justice, placing higher than 14 other teams, including those from UC – Berkeley, UCLA, Loyola, and California Western.  They placed 11th overall, and one of the team members (Susy Prochazka) placed in the top 25 of overall speakers.”

Twenty-two law schools competed at this regional round of the prestigious international law moot court competition. The Jessup Competition occurs on an international scale, with dozens of nations holding regional competitions, with the World Finals taking place in Washington, D.C. in April 2013.

The 60-page fact pattern, or Compromis, presented multiple complex issues of international law, refugee and asylum law, human rights law issues and climate change policy. These intricate areas of international law were explored in the context of a dispute between two States involving the loss of an island country to the disastrous effects of climate change and the subsequent discord in refugee status of the island’s former citizens, conditions of refugee detention and the allegedly illegal seizure of outstanding development loans.

Over a three-month period, the TJSL’s Jessup team researched the tangle of international law problems and produced two 60-page briefs, or Memorials, that addressed four distinct issues: (1) the matter of statehood in the context of an island State that had lost its former physical territory to the rising waters of the ocean; (2) the legal status of migrants from the former island territory under existing refugee conventions and policies either encouraging or restricting the expansion of the definition of “refugee”; (3) the legality of conditions of detention at a migrant processing center and whether those conditions violate human rights law; and (4) the legal implications presented by a creditor State’s seizure of foreign assets to satisfy the debtor State’s outstanding debt. Each main issue was rife with sub-issues and contentious areas of dispute, and the Jessup team worked hard to narrow the discussion while addressing all the relevant and overlapping areas of law.

Once the Memorials were submitted in early January, the Jessup team turned its attention to perfecting the oral arguments. The team worked closely with Professor Keller and Professor Slomanson, both experienced in the fields of international law and international humanitarian law, to learn the nuanced standards of advocacy that are unique to the International Court of Justice. Several professors were also kind enough to lend their legal expertise and knowledge while acting as formidable judges during practice sessions.

Four team members focused on crafting oral arguments while one member acted as a coach and general adviser on international law. After three months of constant meetings, practices and rehearsals, the Jessup team successfully competed in the 54th Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition at Lewis & Clark Law School, besting many competitors in both oral and written submissions.

“I’m so proud of this team,” said Professor Keller.  “I doubt they’ll ever face judges this tough again, but if so, I’m sure they will perform with equal grace under pressure!”

For those interested in participating in Jessup next year, be sure to look for the upcoming Moot Court Honor Society tryouts in April 2013.