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Case Mooted at Law School is Aired Before United States Supreme Court

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Lozano v. Alvarez
, a case raising points of law regarding child abduction across international lines, was heard by the United States Supreme Court on Dec. 11 after a practice moot held at the Columbus School of Law two weeks earlier. 

The case was argued on behalf of petitioner Manuel Lozano by Shawn Patrick Regan, a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP in New York City. Regan is a 1996 graduate of the Columbus School of Law and a current member of its Board of Visitors.
 
On Nov. 26, he practiced his upcoming arguments during a mooting session in the Law School’s Slowinski Courtroom (top).  Students were permitted to watch silently as Regan was peppered with questions about his case by four volunteer “judges” who acted as stand-ins for the Justices on the high court. The volunteer jurists strove for realism, asking questions and raising points that were anticipated as likely from the real court.
 
The exercise was a welcome opportunity for students to appreciate the preparation that goes into effective courtroom advocacy, and well as to absorb the nuances of the back-and-forth between attorneys and the Court in cases of major significance.
 
Each attendee signed a confidentiality agreement binding them to silence about the particulars of the case and the supporting arguments, at least until after the case was actually argued.   
 
Lozano v. Alvarez features a complex stew of legal issues involving international diplomatic treaties, child abduction across national borders, and what is ultimately best for the child in question.
 
At issue was the interpretation of certain provisions of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a treaty that addresses international custody disputes.
 
The case is the culmination of a custody battle between two Colombian nationals who immigrated to England, where their daughter was born in 2005. In 2008, the mother disappeared with their daughter to France and later moved to New York. It took the girl’s father two years to track the pair down, well beyond the one year period where the return of an abducted child is essentially automatic, according to the Hague treaty.
 
Advocating for his client, Manuel Lozano, Regan argued for some flexibility in the interpretation of the one year period since the father did not know where his child was.  

As is the norm in cases heard by the high court, both Regan and the opposing counsel were repeatedly challenged by the justices. At one point, Justice Antonin Scalia said that even if the signatory nations to the child custody treaty misunderstood certain legal principles, it was irrelevant to the case at hand.
 
 “They may be wrong. Who cares if they're wrong? The point is a treaty should be interpreted uniformly by all the parties to it. And you're telling me, all the rest of them interpret it another way, but they're wrong. You know, everybody is out of step but me. That's just not right,” said Scalia.
 
At another point, Justice Sonia Sotomayor thought the petitioner’s approach was “turning that legislative history on its head a little bit.”
 
Such comments are typical as the Justices probe for weaknesses in the arguments presented. They do not necessarily provide insight into how the court will ultimately rule. A decision in Lozano v. Alvarez is expected next summer.
 
In private practice with his firm, Regan is a specialist in many areas of law, including appellate, business litigation, climate change law and policy, securities litigation and SEC enforcement, white collar defense and internal investigations.