Mooters & Scooters

Well, first things first–a “mooter”–no need to look it up (especially not on Urban Dictionary).  Around here, a mooter is a moot court competitor, an oral advocate.  The problem that mooters took on for USD’s second intramural tournament of the 2010-2011 season, the Intellectual Property competition, was based on a cease and desist letter sent from Razor Scooters® to a small snowboard company that named one of their new boards the “Razor.”  Ted Sanders, Executive Board member, national team competitor, and this year’s problem writer, chose the area of law he was interested in, and while searching for facts to overlay the legal questions, Ted’s fiancé reminded him about the experience of her brother and his snowboard company.  Insert shout-out to Donek Snowboards here.  Ted ran with it, and the result was an outstanding winter-themed problem that challenged the competitors from the brief writing all the way through their oral arguments.

This year’s competition hosted 19 teams and many more judges from the legal community.  Tournament coordinator Nick Fox said, “It can be difficult to get busy legal practitioners to make the time commitment,” but added, “once they come and see the level of advocacy and get involved in the problem, they really enjoy themselves.”  The IP competition is a team tournament and gives students the opportunity to work in pairs, each arguing a different narrow legal question, but collaborating and crafting a cohesive brief and argument.  Fox also encouraged first year students to make themselves known to the Appellate Moot Court Boards and especially to volunteer and bailiff for the McLennon tournament this Fall.  First year students will submit applications to be part of next year’s Associate Board late next semester.

The final round of the competition was held in USD’s own Grace Courtroom and featured a distinguished bench.  Stanley Panikowski, adjunct professor of law at USD and attorney with DLA Piper; Dessa Burton of Fish & Richardson; and Professor Kris Panikowski, also formerly of Fish & Richardson, made for an intimidating panel.  This year, Craig TenBroek and partner Kevin Kwon took first place overall, with Vijay Bal and Brian Headman following close in second.  Amanda Betsch and Tiffanie McDowell received accolades for the number one brief, and the award for best individual oral advocate went to Kevin Kwon.

Chairman of the Appellate Moot Court Board, Cody Payne, said that this year’s tournament was a great success.  Payne said he measures the success of the tournament by the level of preparation, professionalism, and advocacy shown by the competitors.  In addition, the success of any tournament is the result of those that work so hard to organize it and the attorneys that carve out the time to judge.  It seems that this year was a success by all those indicators.

Mooters are excited for the upcoming McLenon tournament and will start preparing soon after school starts up again this coming January.  The McLennon tournament is much larger than this year’s two intramural competitions, has a required in-class component, and offers a heightened level of competition.

Don’t look for a mooter on a razor scooter, but do look for the USD’s Appellate Moot Court program to continue its national and intramural successes, specifically to keep improving upon its prestigious national ranking.  If you want to be a part of that success, find a mooter and ask how to get involved.

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