Law students win Moot Court competition
The Syracuse University College of Law Moot Court team won the northeast regional championships in the Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, the second consecutive SU team to do so.
Shannon Ashford, a second-year law student, and her teammate Richard Ahn, a third-year law student, won the competition and will be competing at nationals in Philadelphia from Nov. 10 to 11.
SU sent two teams to the competition. After two preliminary rounds, both teams advanced to the bracket of the top four teams. Ashford and Ahn were ranked first, and SU’s second team, Jona Cosio and Salman Ravala, was initially ranked second, but after the final rounds, finished fourth.
Ashford and Ahn’s team also won best brief and tied for best oralist.
The competition resembles an appellate court, with one team playing the petitioner, and the other, the respondent, Ahn said. The petitioner must convince the judge to overturn the previous court’s decision, and the respondent must convince the judge to uphold the decision.
Each team submits an ‘on-brief,’ which is a pre-prepared statement of the argument for its side, Ahn said. It then competes with an ‘off-brief,’ which is where each team contests the opponent’s position. Each team must have briefs prepared for the petitioner and the respondent.
‘They chose us last year, and we had to start writing the brief immediately, since it was due in the first few weeks of September,’ Ahn said.
The topic for this year’s competition, based on a real case, concerned a young girl who came to America for political asylum, Ashford said. Her parents were political activists in Burma, and they came here to protect their lives.
Ten years later, the girl was a college student who participated in a demonstration to voice discontent with the situation in Burma, Ashford said. The girl was arrested, and her attorney told her to plead no contest, but she was deported. She is now appealing the decision, on the ground of inefficient assist of council, and that the decision puts her life in jeopardy.
‘It’s our job to give (students) a live situation, and to familiarize them with the arguments,’ said Julie Lu, a third year law student and one of the Moot Court’s coaches, who was on the Northeast Regional Champion team last year. ‘We coach them to make sure they are polished.’
Lu also said that the coaches take turns acting as judges for the teams to practice.
The competition is specifically about the appeals process, which is of particular interest to her, Ashford said.
‘I enjoy trial advocacy, and I want to be a district attorney one day,’ she said.
All second- and third-year College of Law students are required to participate in an extra curricular provided by the school, but participating in the Moot Court competition exempts them.
Ashford and Ahn should do well in their next competition, Lu said.
‘I think that they are very polished,’ she said. ‘We have a good shot at nationals this year.’
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