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Justice Labarga: ‘This is exactly how we behave in the courtroom’

Published: January 28th, 2013

Category: Feature

Brandon White (3L) shakes Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry’s hand after the 29th annual Raymer F. Maguire, Jr. Moot Court Competition on Thursday in the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center courtroom. (Photo by Elise Giordano)

By Lindsey Tercilla
Student writer

“You’re getting a far better education than when I was here,” said Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga (JD 79) on Thursday to a packed room of UF Law students, faculty and staff. “Everything you saw today was real. This is exactly how we behave in the courtroom.”

Guests filled the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center courtroom to hear the Florida Moot Court Team argue as the Florida Supreme Court sat en banc to judge the competition for the second time at UF Law in the past decade at the 29th annual Raymer F. Maguire, Jr. Moot Court Competition.

Jessica Clements (2L), Ryan Gilbert (3L) and DeeDee Scheller (2L) represented the petitioner. Ian Dankelman (2L), Danielle Grundt (3L) and Brandon White (3L) represented the respondent.

The teams presented legal arguments based on questions about a police detective’s qualified immunity from a civil liability arising out of the arrest of an innocent man for a sex offense.

The award for best team went to the respondents, and Ian Dankelman (2L) took home the best oral advocate award.

The competitors will argue this case in the regional round on Feb.14 in Las Vegas. If they win the regional round they will advance to the national round.

The Florida Supreme Court stands with Florida Moot Court Team members after the competition Thursday. (Photo by Elise Giordano)

Mary Adkins, director of the Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy Program and master legal skills professor, said the competition benefits all students.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for competitors to practice their talents, but it’s also great for the whole student body to see their peers in action and great judges in action,” she said.

The rare opportunity to have all seven judges at UF Law was an added benefit.

“The fact that they made themselves available to all be here says something about our school,” Adkins said.

The Florida Supreme Court honored the life of Justice Ben Overton (JD 52) who passed away in Gainesville on Dec. 29, 2012. Overton was a double Gator and served UF Law as an adjunct professor until his passing. Read more about his legacy here.

Chief Justice Ricky Polston spoke about the life of Overton and his contributions to the University of Florida and the court. A proclamation was presented to Dean Robert Jerry in honor of Overton.

Ian Dankelman (2L) argues for the respondent to all seven members of the Florida Supreme Court on Jan. 24 in the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center courtroom. He won best oral advocate award in the competition. (Photo by Elise Giordano)

Labarga spoke of the many changes to Florida’s judicial system in which Overton played a major role.

“Overton was a mentor to me. When I became a Supreme Court judge, it was Overton that unveiled my photo in the Lawton Chiles Room and gave a presentation on my behalf.”

The Florida Moot Court Team will hold an information session on Wednesday for 1Ls interested in learning more about the team and the summer tryout process. Students are encouraged to check the daily calendar of events for more information and to visit to learn more about the team.

One of the foremost national moot court teams, the Florida Moot Court Team competes each year at more than a dozen tournaments throughout the country. The team has been a fixture at UF Law since 1909 when the college was founded, but was organized into its current form in 1961.

At that time, the Maguire Appellate Advocacy Competition was sponsored by the Orlando law firm of Maguire, Voorhis & Wells, P.A. The competition is named after Raymer F. Maguire Jr., son of the founder of Maguire, Voorhis & Wells, P.A., managing partner of the firm, and UF Law alumnus. In the summer of 1998, Maguire, Voorhis & Wells, P.A. merged with the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP, which also became a proud sponsor of the competition.




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