Nearly 200 competitors, coaches, jurists, lawyers, and law students from across the country took part in the 2019 Seigenthaler-Sutherland National Moot Court Competition at CUA Law and the Newseum and Freedom Forum Institute on March 22-23. Dean Regina Jefferson welcomed competitors and judges, and the Law School's National Moot Court Association ran the competition under the leadership of Chancellor Evan Berlanti and Seigenthaler-Sutherland Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Bowen. The twenty-four teams argued a complex First Amendment problem co-authored by Seigenthaler-Sutherland Vice-Chancellors Rebecca DeVerter and Gemma Forest with the guidance of Professor Sarah Duggin and assistance from Professor A.G. Harmon. The problem involved a challenge to the constitutionality of a state university's campus free speech policy and its application to a student who chanted pro-immigration slogans during an anti-immigration speech delivered by a speaker invited by a student organization. The pivotal issues focused on whether the policy was unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad on its face and as applied. These questions are arising on campuses across the country in the midst of a national debate on the meaning of free speech on campus.
Competitors argued the first two rounds on Friday afternoon before panels comprised of distinguished members of the bench, bar, and legal academy. Judges praised both the quality of the cutting-edge problem and the high caliber of the advocacy throughout the competition. Friday judges included Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Katie Crowley; Academic Affairs Director Bryan McDermott; Professors Stacy Brustin, A.G. Harmon, Leila Leigh, and Laurie Lewis; and Adjunct Professors Lesley Fair and Brooks Singer, as well as more than 40 other alumni and friends of the Law School.
The Newseum hosted the quarter-final, semi-final, and final rounds on Saturday, March 23 in a mock courtroom overlooking the Capitol. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit presided over the final argument. John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, Judge Jane Stranch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Judge Rodney Sippel, Chief Judge of the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Missouri; James Duff, Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; Gene Policinski, President and Chief Operating Officer, Freedom Forum Institute; and Murray Garnick General Counsel, Altria Client Services LLC joined Judge Daughtrey on the bench for the final round of the competition.
Judge Marian Harrison of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee presided over the semi-final rounds. Judge Joseph Leeson Jr. '80 of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and Judge Thurman Rhodes Jr. '75 of the Maryland District Court for Prince George's County joined Judge Harrison on the semi-final bench. CUA Law Professor Sarah Duggin; First Amendment Center Ombudsman David Hudson; Jack Kirschenbaum of Gray-Robinson, Melbourne, FL; First Amendment Freedom Forum Chief Executive Officer and Newseum trustee Jan Neuharth; First Amendment Center Executive Director Lata Nott, and CSL alumnus Judge Paul Wallace '89 of the Delaware Superior Court.
Abigail Kittredge and Stephen Moss of American University's Washington College of Law won the competition. Second place went to Brian Gibbons and Alicia Wolff of Loyola University Chicago College of Law. The other semi-finalists were Sydney Feldman and Jeanelle Gomez of the University of Miami School of Law and Emma Cramer, Taylor Houston, and Matthew Breen of Emory University School of Law.
Sydney Feldman and Jeanelle Gomez of the University of Miami School of Law won the "Best Brief" award withTaylor Schussel and Megan Pollastro of Brooklyn Law School taking the award for second place. Chris Conrad of Georgetown University Law Center won "Best Oralist," and Hannah Buzolitis of Michigan State College of Law won the runner-up award for "Best Oralist."
The Columbus School of Law's team - Will Gibson, Anika Smith, Jamie O'Donohue, and alumna coach Melissa Youssef '15 did an excellent job on behalf of our law school. They missed qualifying for the final rounds of the competition by a very narrow margin. Thanks, too, to our ghost team Paige Markley and Mary Turgeon who stepped in to help and scored very high marks for their oral advocacy.
The Seigenthaler-Sutherland National First Amendment Moot Court Competition is the product of the merger of CUA Law's Sutherland Cup, the oldest continuous private moot court competition in the nation, and the Newseum's Seigenthaler Cup, now in its twenty-ninth year. The Sutherland Cup was named for Supreme Court Justice George B. Sutherland; and the Seigenthaler Cup honors John Seigenthaler, distinguished journalist and founder of the Newseum Institute's First Amendment Center.
CUA Law congratulates Chancellor Evan Berlanti, Seigenthaler-Sutherland Vice-Chancellors Elizabeth Bowen, Rebecca DeVerter and Gemma Forest, Vice Chancellor for Operations and Analytics Michael Chavez and all of the other Moot Court Board members and associates who helped make the competition happen; CUA Law team members Will Gibson, Anika Smith and Jamie O'Donohue; the many student volunteers who pitched in to make the competition a success; Seigenthaler-Sutherland Faculty Advisor Sarah Duggin; and Moot Court Faculty Advisors A.G. Harmon and Frederick Woods. Special thanks to Emily Sobieski, Student Life and Special Events Coordinator who managed the competition's complex logistics snowstorm with the unfailing guidance of Special Events Director Joan Vorrasi, and to Marketing and Communications Director Joe Ferraro, and to Walter Lewis and Jordan Blackwell who helped prepare and organize competition materials.
We are grateful to our Newseum and Freedom Forum Institute colleagues for hosting the final rounds and for their tireless work to uphold the First Amendment, their extraordinary efforts in support of the competition, and their gracious hospitality. Our deepest thanks to First Amendment Freedom Forum Chief Executive Officer and Newseum Trustee Jan Neuharth; Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center President and Chief Executive Officer Gene Policinski, First Amendment Center Executive Director Lata Nott, Newseum Event Manager Meagan Bowers, and the many distinguished jurists, alumni, faculty and students who judged, competed in, prepared, and supported the 2019 Seigenthaler-Sutherland National Moot Court Competition!
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