Moot Court Final Four fills Advocacy Center courtroom
Students, faculty and alumni filled the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center Aug. 31 to watch four of the Florida Moot Court team’s top competitors argue about changing laws regarding cellphone privacy. Every seat was taken for the 27th annual Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Moot Court Final Four competition which allows some of the UF Levin College of Law’s elite oralists to put their skills and hard work to the test.
Every summer, second-year law students have the opportunity to try out to become members of the Florida Moot Court Team. The top five then move on to the competition: two petitioners, two respondents and an alternate. All five students receive scholarships funded by the Justice Campbell Thornal Endowment for outstanding performances in the intramural tryouts. Additional scholarships are awarded to the winners of the competition.
Ian Dankelman and Blake Neumann represented the petitioners, the U.S. government. Cullen Boggus and Megan Coughlin represented the respondent, Jack Fritz. Nathan Diehl, the alternate, acted as master of ceremonies and bailiff. This year’s issue concerned cellphone privacy under the Fourth Amendment and a minor’s right to counsel under the Fifth Amendment. The bench composed of Judge Stephan P. Mickle, Judge Stephanie W. Ray and Judge T. Kent Wetherell, II. The arguments were displayed via video in Holland Hall and online.
“Over the number of years I’ve been at these competitions, these were some of the best arguments I have ever seen,” Judge Mickle said.
After an hour of intense oral argument, the judges announced the winners. Best brief went to Nathan Diehl, best overall went to Blake Neumann, best oralist went to Megan Coughlin and best team went to Ian Dankelman and Blake Neumann.
“They did much better than I could have done as a young law student,” Judge Ray said before complimenting each student on the strength of their argument and skills as an oralist. “I truly can’t wait to see where you all end up.”
The Florida Moot Court Competition is sponsored by Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe, P.A. and Lorrie Bearden. Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe is recognized as one of the largest law firms in central Florida and has been sponsoring the competition for 27 consecutive years.
“It’s somewhat bittersweet for me as a Seminole,” said Judge Wetherell. “I was partially hoping I would come down here and find that you could not speak and didn’t understand the law but that obviously is not the case. I thought all of you did exceptionally well.”
First-year students who watched the competition and are curious about the Moot Court team are encouraged to attend any of the information sessions this spring. Students may also stop by the Moot Court table in the courtyard throughout the year where they can speak with team members who will be discussing their current competitions and their perspective on appellate advocacy. A replay of the competition is available at http://mediasite.video.ufl.edu/Mediasite/Play/cf497b23132d471096761dc5c34c2c871d.
– Francie Weinberg
(Robert O’Linn (3L) contributed to this article)