For the third time in five years, Baylor Law’s Moot Court interscholastic team has clinched another national championship at the E. Earle Zehmer Moot Court competition held in Orlando. In a testament to the depth of talent of Baylor Law’s moot court teams, two Baylor Law teams advanced to the final round of the competition and faced off for the championship on Monday, August 21, 2022.
The team of Carisa Brawley and Will Onyeike placed first out of more than a dozen teams at the annual competition sponsored by the Florida Workers’ Compensation Institute, edging out the team of Canon Hill and Rhasean Stephens. Both teams were coached by Haley Owens, JD ’20, of the Hermes Law Firm in Dallas, herself a former member of Baylor Law’s highly successful interscholastic moot court team.
“I was so fortunate to get to work with this extraordinary group of students, and their commitment to their teams truly humbled me,” noted team coach Haley Owens, JD ’20. “Every one of them went above and beyond the call of duty, maintaining their dedication and positive attitudes even in the face of 40+ hour work weeks, full courseloads, final exams, job interviews, and Practice Court preparation.”
I know these four will go on to do amazing things, and I was lucky to be a small part of their Baylor journey.”
–Haley Owens, JD ’20
Attorney at Hermes Law and Team Coach
The Zehmer Competition is one of the country’s more unique moot court competitions for its complex issues and concepts designed to immerse law students in worker’s compensation law issues. The judges in the preliminary rounds are sitting judges, commissioners, and other adjudicators who hear workers’ compensation cases regularly. Sitting judges of the First District Court of Appeal of Florida judged the final round of the competition.
The competition involves writing a brief as either appellant or appellee and then arguing the case in front of a panel of judges. During the competition’s two qualifying rounds, students compete on ‘both sides’ of the matter – meaning they must argue at least once on behalf of the appellant and at least once as the appellee. This year’s winning team represented the appellant, Buncombe’s Universal Circus, and argued that the appellee was not entitled to worker’s compensation after sustaining an injury while practicing gymnastics because (1) the appellee was an independent contractor, not an employee, and also a performer and therefore exempt from worker’s compensation and (2) that the appellee did not have a calculable average weekly wage to use to calculate a worker’s compensation award, and even if he did, it would be set significantly lower than the amount set by the Judge of Compensation Claims.
This championship win in Florida follows another first-place finish by a Baylor Law moot court team at the Texas Young Lawyers Competition Moot Court Competition, held in conjunction with the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting earlier this summer. Kristopher Ruiz, Gili Canales, brief writer Andrew Boone, their bailiff Tansy Ackermann, and their coach Professor Kathy Serr, took first place at the Texas Young Lawyers Association State Moot Court Competition. Members of the Texas Supreme Court judged the final round of the TYLA competition.
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