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Moot Court Teams Argue in Notable Competitions

November 21, 2011

Moot Court
Moot Court

Throughout the past week and a half, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Moot Court Honors Society shined in competitions both at home and in Chicago.

On November 16-19, Kim Carter, Samantha Ciriaco (coached by Jonathan Yu), Xavier Carr and Rane Casalegno (coached by Evan Garcia) competed in the Chicago Bar Association’s annual Moot Court competition. The problem was the highly current and fascinating issue of the constitutionality of Individual Mandate in national health care legislation, an issue which has split the Circuit Courts of Appeal and will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next spring. Our teams performed extremely well arguing through three rounds.

“It was a great experience arguing the mandates of the Obama health care plan,” Casalegno said.  “It was a challenge because it was mostly theoretical, but as a philosophy major in college, I enjoyed it. We are also at a very pivotal point in history with this issue, so it feels great to be on the ground floor and know so much about something this important.”

The teams were greatly aided in their preparation by help from TJSL faculty members Christopher Guzelian, Marybeth Herald, Steve Semeraro, Ken Vandevelde, and Richard Winchester who gave invaluable advice in honing their oral arguments.

On November 12 and 13, Thomas Jefferson hosted the Inaugural Regional 15 competition of the National Moot Court Competition co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Bar Association of the City of New York. The National Moot Court Competition has been held every year since 1950. 

Twelve teams competed over two days. Thomas Jefferson was represented by two teams:  Ruthanne Bergt and Meghan Buckner (coached by Teresa Gutierrez), and Sarah Davidson and Zac Ruetz (coached by Ashok Pathi).   Although our teams performed well, we did not advance to the final rounds.  Some 30 judges from the local community volunteered their time to judge the five-round competition.  The winners were Megan Young and Brittney Lane of Pepperdine; Runners up were Melisa McKellar and Aminta Raffalovich from University of San Diego.  Raffalovich won best oralist in the final round. 

Thanks to great work in preparation by Kathryn Markey and Kim Carter, the event was a great success.

Special thanks go to Attorney Rob Galloway of Houston, Toni Young Director of UC Hastings Law Schools Legal Writing and Research and Moot Court who administered the program and Steve Swinton of the American College of Trial Lawyers and Latham & Watkins who was invaluable in recruiting judges, as well as judging the semifinals.

“It was definitely a great experience after a semester of hard word,” Ciriaco, who competed in Chicago, said. “It was interesting to see other law students and the different presentation styles. I learned a lot.”