The Catholic University of America

Left to right: Jennifer Hanley (2D), Danielle Benoit, team coach and president of the Communications Law Student Association, and Tyler Van Voorhees (2D), winner of Best Oral Advocate.

CUA Team Wins 2007 National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition

Washington, D.C. - A two-person team representing the Columbus School of Law won the 13th annual National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition, held Feb. 2-3, 2007, in the law school building on the campus of Catholic University.

Second-year students Jennifer Hanley and Tyler Van Voorhees defeated contestants from George Washington's law school in the final round, and Van Voorhees continued CUA's winning streak for the third year in a row as the Best Oral Advocate for the competition. The Best Brief Award went to the team from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

The 2007 competition was one of the largest in years, with nearly a dozen law schools fielding a team. Participants included the University of Baltimore, University of Colorado, Indiana University, Georgetown, George Washington, Northern Kentucky, Syracuse, University of Virginia and William and Mary.

The final rounds were judged by the Hon. Edward J. Damich, chief judge of the Court of Federal Claims, former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy, David H. Solomon, former chief of the Enforcement Bureau at the FCC, and Jennifer Warren, president of the Federal Communications Bar Association.

Logic, presentation and command of the facts: moot court judges hold students to real life standards as they argue their cases. CUA's team showed its best face on all counts.

This year's participants were assigned a timely issue: whether or not sponsorship identification rules apply to video news releases. Looking just like standard television news stories, VNRs are "news" packages created by people outside of a news station, such as a production company or even the government to advocate a particular point of view, or to sell a service or product. Some people call video news releases 'fake news.' The CUA team's hypothetical client was a cable news network that used VNR footage in a news broadcast without disclosing its source. Facing FCC sanctions, moot court attorneys Hanley and Van Voorhees argued that the law was misapplied to their client and that the FCC action infringed upon the First Amendment rights of the news gatherers.

"I think that Tyler's rebuttals really swayed the judges in the end," said Hanley. "He gave two magnificent rebuttals and was so quick to pick up on some errors that the other team made in their arguments in the semi and final rounds."

Catholic University, George Washington, Georgetown and Southwestern made it to the semi-final rounds.

"I didn't feel any additional pressure with the larger number of teams, but I did feel some pressure to advance to the later rounds because last year's teams were unable to advance," Hanley commented. "Catholic has done well in this competition before, and I really wanted us to do well this year."

Co-sponsored by the Columbus School of Law and the Federal Communications Bar Association since 1994, the National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition requires teams to submit a brief and deliver oral arguments before a panel of practicing attorneys who specialize in communications law.