Duke Law Wins Regional Stage of National Moot Court Competition

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November 25, 2002

Moot Court Trophy
Third-year students Jackie Sumer, Dhamian Blue and Meg Turner won the regional segment of the National Moot Court Competition in Richmond, VA, on Nov. 15-16.

Duke Law School won the regional competition of the prestigious 53rd Annual National Moot Court Competition, held in Richmond, VA, the weekend of Nov. 15-16. Of 20 participating teams from 11 law schools in the region, two Duke teams placed in the top four. The team of Jontille Fowler, Patrick McLain and Lewis Schlossberg reached the semifinals before succumbing to the University of Virginia in a close match. The other Duke team of Dhamian Blue, Jackie Sumer and Meg Turner took first place by defeating that same UVA team in the final round. In the competition, oral arguments counted for 60 percent of a team’s score in any given round, and briefs counted for 40 percent. Briefs had been submitted and scored a month prior to the competition. In the oral competition, competitors’ school affiliations were not revealed to the judges, who knew them only as petitioners or respondents, nor did judges know the brief scores for either team.

In the first group of arguments, held Friday afternoon, every team participated in two preliminary rounds and argued different sides of the case in each. The case dealt with the constitutionality of a traffic stop and resulting arrest based on an anonymous tip in the mythical state of “Calizona,” as approached from the standpoint of the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. When the top eight teams were announced at the competition banquet on Friday night, both Duke teams were among them.

On Saturday morning, the Duke team of McClean, Schlossberg and Fowler beat Kentucky, the defending champions, and the Duke team of Blue, Sumer, and Turner defeated Wake Forest, whom they later learned had the highest brief score. This put both Duke teams in the final four, the first time in competition sponsors' memory that two teams from the same school had shared that honor. McLain and Schlossberg later argued against Virginia, while Sumer and Turner won against Campbell Law School.

The finals judging panel included the chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, the chief justice and another justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court, and U.S. District Court judges from the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia. Duke Moot Court. “These judges were very familiar with the case, and their questions were hard, fast and usually right on point,” said Duke Moot Court advisor Jim Maxwell. “I have attended and participated in a lot of moot court arguments, and this was certainly the best oral presentation from two teams that I ever saw or participated in.”

The National Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Bar of the City of New York, is widely considered the most competitive in the country. Duke’s winning team, along with Virginia’s second-place team, will advance to the national finals in New York City in late January.