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Dawson & Sodd Moot Court Competition Get Under Way

Sept. 20, 2010

by Brittany Hardy

Baylor Law School's annual Dawson & Sodd P.C. Moot Court Competition began Wednesday, Sept. 15, and will run until Oct. 4. This year, 31 teams will take part in the intramural tournament. The teams are largely composed of students from the Appellate Advocacy and Procedure class, a required course in the third quarter. Additionally, upper-quarter students who have previously participated in the competition often enter due to the competition's high prestige and beneficial practice in delivering oral arguments.

The competition began with a practice round for the students of the AAP class. At the completion of the fourth round, on Sept. 28, the top 16 teams will advance to compete in bracket-style competition, with a team being eliminated each day. The competition finals will be held at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and will be judged by a panel of nine, primarily made up of local attorneys and the winners from Baylor Law's spring moot court competition. The top 10 speakers as well as the top 16 teams will be awarded positions as barristers, an honor accompanied by high acclaim among members of the legal profession.

The students will argue Mills v. United States, a fictional case based on several factual political and moral issues. The case involves a man who was accused of torturing a member of Al Qaeda and is now challenging how the case was handled in previous courts. Baylor Law Professor Rory Ryan generally determines the competition case in light of what cases have been argued at national conventions as well as issues that hold historical significance especially within popular culture.

"It has a political side to it, which makes it even more interesting," said Megan Clay, president of the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society at Baylor. The three officers of the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society run and organize the Moot Court Competition. Richey was a professor at the Baylor Law School, beginning in 1926.

The teams will rotate between petitioner and respondent. Therefore, each participant must be well-researched not simply concerning one-side, but having obtained an understanding of the entire problem. "We're trying to get them to see both sides of the issue," Clay said.

Speakers set themselves apart by utilizing lesser-known cases in their oral arguments, which demonstrates how well they have conducted their research, Clay said.

According to Clay, the best part of the moot court competition is that the entire law school can be involved and stay involved throughout their law school stay. First-quarter students often serve as bailiffs, who hold up time cards, a position Clay said is central to keeping the competition orderly. Then, students compete during their third quarter and if they earn the spot of a barrister, they will return to judge the next competition, or they can return to compete again.

"There is a sense of helping each other out. It's something you're involved in throughout school," Clay said.

Baylor Law School holds internal Moot Court competitions twice a year, each fall and spring. Dawson & Sodd P.C. of Corsicana sponsors the moot court competition every fall. The firm's two partners are both graduates of Baylor Law School. Matt Dawson served as professor of Baylor's renowned Practice Court program from 1971-1983, while Glenn Sodd is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and was named one of the top 100 general trial attorneys in the U.S. by Town and Country magazine.

The finals of the competition will be held at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, in room 127. Cash prizes will be presented to first, second and third place speakers. First place will receive $1,250, second place will receive $900 and third place will receive $300.

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