Dawson & Sodd Moot Court Competition Gets Under Way at Baylor Law School

Sept. 16, 2009

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Baylor Law School's annual Dawson & Sodd P.C. Moot Court Competition, an intramural event that lasts almost three weeks, began on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the law school. This year, 48 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.

Baylor law students who currently are taking Appellate Advocacy and Procedure are required to participate in the moot court competition. Additionally, 13 teams of upper-quarter students are competing.

The case students will argue is styled Clayton v. Carcetti, and it closely mirrors the policy debate between former President George W. Bush and some members of Congress over a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The main issues are whether the standing of a U.S. senator to challenge a presidential decision in court, and whether Congress has the authority to dictate military timelines to the President. The case was used previously in national competition.

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.

"I personally like moot court because it gives students the opportunity to hone their advocacy skills and work with issues that challenge their ability," said second-year law student Jesse Davis, president of the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society at Baylor. "Moot court problems usually deal with unsettled areas of law with lots of room for advocacy. Baylor Law is all about practical skills, and the school Moot Court competition is a key component of our advocacy curriculum."

For the final round, local attorneys and judges will serve as competition judges. The finals of the competition will be held Saturday, Oct. 3. 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 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.

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