Timothy McGinn ’09 Named 2007 Hardt Cup Champion

April 17, 2007Duke Law News

Timothy McGinn ’09 delivered a persuasive argument before three federal judges and a packed court room to win the 2007 Hardt Cup Friday, April 13. Competing against classmate James McDonald '09, who skillfully argued for the respondent, McGinn convinced the panel to find in favor of the petitioner whose conviction for methamphetamine transport and possession came as the result of an unlawful traffic stop.

McGinn challenged both the seizure of his fictional client “Craig Woodruff” pursuant to the Fourth Amendment and the fact that Woodruff was questioned without a lawyer present. The United States Supreme Court will address similar issues on April 23, when the Court hears oral arguments in Brendlin v. California, the case upon which Woodruff v. Ohconsin was based.

Judge James C. Dever III ’87 of the U.S. District Court for the the Eastern District of North Carolina, Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and Justice Don Willet ’92 of the Texas Supreme Court presided over the final round arguments. After delivering their decision, the justices commended the students’ performances, saying that they were exceptionally well-prepared and that “they could hold their own against any lawyer in court.”

McGinn and McDonald were selected as finalists in the competition after competing in three rigorous preliminary rounds, arguing for both the petitioner and respondent in each round. This year, 135 students participated in the competition, with the top 20 oralists receiving invitations to join next year’s Moot Court Board.

McGinn said he will take two lessons from the Hardt Cup experience: “First trying to jam every argument you can think of into a limited period of time doesn’t work. As the tournament went on, I became better at whittling down my case to the most persuasive arguments, and holding others in reserve to respond to specific questions. Second, I learned to slow down my thinking – to take a brief pause and give myself a second to think and organize my answers.

McDonald said that over the course of the competition he realized what a tremendous impact practice can have on individual performance, “I was less nervous in the final round than in any other round simply because I knew what to expect. That’s hard to replicate without having participated in the competition.”

The 2007 Hardt Cup Intramural Competition, run by second-year students Brian Andrews, Ramie O’Neill, and Brianne Schwanitz, marks the end of a year of continued excellence for Duke Law’s Moot Court Board. Teams won the “Best Overall Team” and Best Brief” awards at Whittier Law School’s Juvenile Law Moot Court Competition and Regent Law Schools Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition; “Best Overall Team” at Howard Law School’s Luke Charles Moore Invitational Tournament; and board members were named regional semi-finalist and winners of the “fourth Best Brief” at the Jessup International Moot Court Competition.

Visit www.law.duke.edu/webcast/ to view the webcast of the 2007 Hardt Cup Final.

For more information on Duke Law’s Moot Court Board visit www.law.duke.edu/students/mootcourt.