Moot Court Strikes San Diego

By: Patrick Klingborg

From October 25th to 28th, the USD Appellate Moot Court Board will host 36 teams from law schools around the nation for the 24th annual National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Tournament.  This year, the competitors will argue a hypothetical case that parallels Florida v. Jardines, which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider beginning on October 31.

In Florida v. Jardines, the Court must decide whether the Miami-Dade Police Department violated the defendant’s constitutional rights when it used a dog to sniff search his front porch.  After receiving an unverified tip that Joelis Jardines was growing marijuana in his home, officers visited his residence with a drug-sniffing dog.  While on the front porch, the dog detected narcotics, which then formed the basis of the officers’ probable cause for a search warrant.

In other contexts, the Court has excluded sniff searches from Fourth Amendment protection.  In Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005), a sniff search of an automobile during a traffic stop was found not to be a Fourth Amendment search.  Similarly, a sniff search of luggage at the airport does not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment under the holding in United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696 (1983).  However, courts generally prefer to maintain the sanctity of the home, and afford homeowners additional protection against search and seizure.  The case comes to the Supreme Court after the Florida Supreme Court held that the search was “a substantial government intrusion,” and a violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Many of the nation’s top moot court programs will compete in the tournament this year, including UC Hastings (ranked #1), South Texas College of Law (#3), Baylor (#5), Seton Hall (#11), Michigan State (#12), University of the Pacific (#13) and others.  As the host, the USD Appellate Moot Court Board (ranked #9 in the nation) cannot compete in the tournament.  However, the tournament continues to build reputation of the University of San Diego School of Law nationwide.

Moot court tournaments provide an opportunity for students to hone their research, writing, and oral advocacy skills.  In the spring, USD students will compete against one another on an issue of constitutional law in the Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Honors Moot Court Competition.

The school offers an optional one-unit companion course to the tournament to help students workshop the necessary skills. Interested students should email usdmootcourt@gmail.com for more information.

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