Baylor Law Team Wins Emory Civil Rights Moot Court Competition

Oct. 20, 2011
News Photo 5270(L to R) - Saba Syed, Professor and coach Larry Bates, Sarah Scott, assistant coach Jennie Bauman, and Anna Williams.

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A Baylor Law moot court team of Sarah Scott, Saba Syed and Anna Williams defeated SMU to win the Emory Civil Rights-Liberties Moot Court Competition last weekend in Atlanta. Scott, Syed and Williams also received the Best Brief Award.

A second Baylor Law team of Taylor Romero, Laura Vermillon and Matt Sheridan also performed well in the competition.

The teams learned the case they would argue on Aug. 1, and immediately began writing their 30-page briefs discussing their legal positions.

The fictional case was a civil rights issue concerning:

    • whether and to what extent free speech may be restricted on public property in front of a military funeral, and

    • whether officers may search through data on a cell phone without a warrant.

"Given the technological advances of cell phones today and all of the media attention with the Westboro Baptist Church, the topics were interest and relevant to current issues we face," Williams said.

The briefs were turned in on Sept. 12, and the teams began practicing their oral arguments.

"We practiced for oral arguments every other day sometimes lasting for three hours," Syed said. "In the end, winning was a team effort, and we could not have done it without the constant support of our coach, Professor Larry Bates. Our assistant couch Jennie Bauman, an associate at Carrington Coleman, was wonderful as well."

Scott agreed and also praised the work of others who helped the teams.

"We had so many volunteer judges who helped us with oral arguments - faculty, students, alumni - it was really great to get feedback from people who had been there before," she said.

Other Baylor Law advocacy teams that competed last weekend also did well. The National Pretrial Competition team of Ben Doyle, Sara Schetenthaler, James Willis and Allen Wilson was 2-1 in preliminary rounds and narrowly missed the break to the semifinals at Stetson Law School. The team was coached by Bridget Fuselier, associate professor of law.

Baylor Law's Lone Star Mock Trial Competition team of Brittney Johnson, Steven Lopez, Michael Roberts and Kacey VonDeaver was recognized as the Most Professional Team. Brittney Johnson won Best Speaker for the preliminary rounds at that competition. The team was coached by Professor Jeremy Counseller and Joe Rivera.

"It is very gratifying for Baylor Law teams to do so well so early in the advocacy competition season," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "We take advocacy skills training, both trial and appellate advocacy, very seriously and our efforts are rewarded by the success of our students."

Baylor Law teams will compete in a number of advocacy competitions this academic year. In 2010-11, the Law School sent students to 29 competitions, including three ABA national competitions after wins at regionals. Baylor Law's trial advocacy program rose to third best in the nation in the 2012 edition of U.S. News' "America's Best Graduate Schools."

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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