Brandon Neal '08 Wins 2006 Hardt Cup Moot Court Competition

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Brandon Neal ’08 delivered a compelling and impressive argument before three federal judges and a packed court room to win the coveted 2006 Hardt Cup Monday, April 10. Neal’s victory was challenged by Ann Tigani ‘08, who skillfully argued the petitioner’s position.

This year’s case focused on an anti-terrorism statute enacted by the city of Hardt, capital of the state of Duke, in response to terrorist threats against a city landmark. The statute permits police to stop and require identification from any person within 100 feet of a registered landmark and restricts protest activity near registered landmarks to groups of fewer than 10 people. The case addressed the constitutionality of the identification requirement under the Fourth Amendment and the protest restriction under the First Amendment.

Neal and Tigani were selected as finalists in the competition after competing in three rigorous preliminary rounds, arguing for both the petitioner and respondent in each round. More than 120 students participated in the preliminary rounds, with the top 20 receiving invitations to join next year’s Moot Court Board.

Asked what he would take away from the experience, Neal said, “the importance of creativity. Most people think the law is set in stone and the legal profession has little room for innovation, but the legal profession is all about change and developing creative, but sound logic, to adapt to the changes in our society.”

Tigani said that over the course of the competition she learned to read cases quickly, synthesize persuasive arguments, and became more comfortable thinking on her feet and adapting her arguments to various judging styles.

“All 1Ls, even those not interested in making the Moot Court Board or in being litigators, should participate in the Hardt Cup,” she added.

The Honorable Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Washington, the Honorable Judge Algernon L. Marbley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and the Honorable Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma presided over the final round arguments. After delivering their decision, Judge Miles-LeGrange, the competition’s chief justice, said she and her colleagues marveled at the fact that both advocates are just completing their first year of law school.

“They both knew the facts in such a sophisticated nuanced way that it was incredibly impressive,” added Judge Friedman.

Neal called the achievement a justification of his abilities and potential, but said, “It is by no means the end. I still have more to accomplish and this achievement just gives me an incentive to keep working.”