Dawson & Sodd Moot Court Competition Begins Oct. 3 at Baylor Law School

Oct. 2, 2007

by Julie Carlson, Baylor Law School, (254) 710-6681

Baylor Law School's annual Dawson & Sodd P.C. Moot Court Competition, an intramural event that lasts almost three weeks, will get under way on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the law school. This year, 44 two-person teams will take part in the competition, which simulates the appellate advocacy process, from writing an appellate brief to preparing and presenting oral arguments before a panel of judges. Baylor Law School holds a second intramural moot court competition during the spring.

"People often get mock trial and moot court confused," said Rob George, a third-year Baylor law student and president of the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society. "In moot court, there is no jury and no witnesses. You are not arguing facts; you are arguing law, and you appear before judges, not a judge and jury."

Baylor law students who currently are taking the third quarter of Legal Analysis, Research and Communication (LARC 3) are required to participate in the moot court competition. Additionally, students have an option of competing a second time after they have completed LARC 3.

"The issue confronting the contestants is very topical, but it is not a case that has been taken up before the Supreme Court, yet. The professor who is teaching LARC 3, in this case Professor Rory Ryan, selects the problem," George said. "This year, the case focuses on the sufficiency of a Miranda warning and searching a probationer's apartment and finding drugs belonging to his roommate."

At the start of the competition, each team, consisting of two competitors, writes a brief and then completes four preliminary rounds of oral argument. The top 16 teams then move into the final rounds and are awarded the distinction of barrister. Barristers, along with numerous full-time faculty members, judge the rounds of oral argument. Students who are among the top 10 speakers during the fall or spring competitions or students who compete on one of Baylor Law's interscholastic moot court or mock trial competition teams also are members of the Order of Barristers.

For the moot court competition, the opposing teams represent the petitioner and the respondent in the case. The teams will tackle two issues, with each team member taking an issue. Judges typically only can ask questions on that competitor's issues. However, in the rebuttal, the petitioner must be knowledgeable about both issues because the judges can ask about either.

"Moot court is a free-flowing competition and enables students to become comfortable in thinking on their feet," George said. "It is very challenging because the judges really grill competitors about the issues."

For the final round, local attorneys and judges will serve as competition judges. The finals of the competition will be held Saturday, Oct. 20. Cash prizes will be presented to finalists and semi-finalists. Additional awards will be given to the Top 10 Speakers and the Best Brief.

The Dawson & Sodd P.C. law firm of Corsicana sponsors the fall competition. The firm's two partners are both graduates of Baylor Law School. Matt "Mad Dog" Dawson served on Baylor Law School's faculty from 1938-1971 and was professor of Baylor's renowned Practice Court program for 13 years, 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.

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