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Columbia Law School Claims World Moot Court Championship

Columbia Law School Claims World Championship And Other Honors During Busy Moot Court Term
This spring, Columbia Law School celebrated an especially successful season of moot court competitions, the most notable being a world championship victory in the international Jessup Moot Court. A round-up follows:

Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Columbia finished first among more than 550 teams from more than 80 countries in the 2006 Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition this spring. The victory was the first for a U.S. team in 16 years.

The competition, named after Columbia Professor Philip C. Jessup, is organized by the International Law Students Association (in conjunction with the American Society of International Law) and is sponsored by Shearman & Sterling.

"The Case Concerning the Elysian Fields" involved a dispute among two countries over the extraction of oil in Elysium, a territory inhabited by indigenous peoples (the Elysians) and straddling both states. The case presented issues concerning the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and state succession, indigenous rights, state responsibility for human rights violations (forced labor) committed by private corporations, and treaty interpretation. The problem was based loosely on the Unocal case (an Alien Tort Claims Act dispute) and on jurisdictional issues surrounding the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Tracy Appleton '08, Seth Davis '08, Vincent Levy '07, Alka Pradhan '07, and Corey Whiting '07 argued their way through the regional and international rounds and, in the finals, Mr. Levy and Ms. Appleton (arguing for the respondent) defeated Venezuela's Universidad Catolica Andres Bello to become world champions. This was the Law School's third world championship, adding to victories in 1963 and 1965. Mr. Levy also won the prize for best oralist in the final round.

Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court

Justice Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court (right), Judge Edith B. Clement, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, and Judge Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (left), officiated this year's Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court. Blaine Evanson '06 won best brief and John Tanski '06 won best oral argument. The other participants were Todd Anten '06 (above) and Graham O'Donoghue '06.

The problem, written by Ted Geiger '06, consisted of two evidentiary issues arising out of a wire fraud case. The first issue was whether Rule 408 of the Federal Rules of Evidence prohibited the introduction of evidence relating to civil settlement negotiations in a criminal trial. The second involved whether Brady v. Maryland imposed a duty upon prosecutors to turn over all potentially exculpatory inadmissible evidence.

Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court

Columbia received more honors than any other team during a six-day competition of the 13th annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court.

With nearly 1,000 students from 156 teams gathered at the University of Vienna, Columbia advanced to the semifinals of team oral arguments and earned third place in the oral argument tournament. CLS also won first place for claimant's memorandum and honorable mention for respondent's memorandum. Individual honorable mentions for "Outstanding Oral Advocacy" went to Lorraine de Germiny'06 LL.M. and Christina Cathey Schutz '07. Zuzana Blazek '08, Joseph Brubaker '06, Gary Li '08, and Amanda Wetzel '07 rounded out the Columbia participants.

Constance Baker Motley Moot Court

Law School students took a number of honors at the American Constitution Society's first Constance Baker Motley Moot Court. Founded by CLS students, the event drew 27 teams to the competition. Judge Constance Baker Motley '46 was an important figure in the American civil rights movement, serving as counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and later as a federal judge in New York's Southern District. She died in 2005.

Among the award winners were Cuauhtémoc Ortega ‘07 and Leanne Wilson '07, who were court semi-finalists and also winners for best brief for the respondent; and the teams of Jim Doggett '08 and Adam Pulver '08, and quarter-finalists Nina Yadava '08 and Craig Boneau '08. This year's problem concerned whether Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act applies to felon disfranchisement and, if so, are these laws illegal when they have racially disparate impact. A second question asked whether these laws violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Creators of the competition are Founding Director Mary Kelly Persyn '07, Academic Director Keith Bradley '07, Finance Director Jenny Bell '08, Logistics Director Zahra Egal '08, and Communications Director Amos Blackman '08.

Columbia students played a key role in the Sixth International Asylum Moot Court Competition, which is for students from Eastern European law schools. Led by Professor Philip Genty (above, with two participants), the Columbia students read and scored briefs and provided detailed written feedback to the participants. Jon Gant '07 and Erica Smilevski '06 also conducted training sessions in asylum law for the students and wrote the bench memorandum used by the judges in the oral arguments in Budapest. The other participants were Muneeza Aumir '06, Charlene Caprio '07, Patricia Fossas '06, Mike Goettig '07, Violetta Guberman '06, John Halski '06, Amit Khanna '07, Susan Maples '07, Whitney Potts '06, Monika Proktor '07, Scott Reiber '06, and Tak Sato '06.