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Moot Court Team Achieves National Titles

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 15:02

   Over the break, six members of the Holy Cross Moot Court team welcomed some warmer weather as they traveled to Tempe, Arizona, the site of this year’s American Collegiate Moot Court national championship.  Located at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, the tournament is limited to competitors who qualify in the top 20% of the nation’s ten regional tournaments. This year, eighty two-person teams participated, presenting oral arguments to judges acting as Supreme Court justices. In each round, teams receive twenty minutes to advocate for either the petitioner or respondent of a hypothetical legal case. This year’s case involved comprehensive location tracking and the ability of the President to indefinitely detain American citizens, addressing constitutional issues related to the Fourth Amendment and Article II. Captains Christine Fimognari, ’15 and Michael Bender, ’15, along with Andrew Emerson, ’14 and Megan Izzo, ’17, earned bids in November to compete in the tournament. Erin Reilly, ’15 and Sam Marth, ’16 also had a strong showing at regionals and attended the competition as alternates.     
   Preliminary rounds began on Friday, January 17. Emerson and Izzo were knocked out of the competition following several difficult matches, but Fimognari and Bender earned a winning record, continuing to the next day’s elimination rounds. After an early victory, they advanced to the next round, where they were matched against the competition’s top-seeded team from Patrick Henry College—a team which Emerson and Izzo had met the previous day. Patrick Henry boasts six consecutive national titles and is widely regarded as the stiffest competition in intercollegiate tournaments; however, Fimognari and Bender eliminated their top team in an upset and proceeded to the round of sixteen. In a split decision, they were finally eliminated after an impressive round against another top-ranked Patrick Henry team, which eventually advanced to the semifinals. Fimognari and Bender’s placement for oral argument ranks them in approximately the top dozen of more than 300 teams which competed for a spot in the national competition this year.        
   The American Collegiate Moot Court Association also sponsors a written advocacy competition, where teams can submit a brief outlining the details of their argument.  Briefs are submitted in December, and the results are announced at the conclusion of the national competition. This year, Fimognari and Bender submitted a twenty-page brief addressing both constitutional issues on behalf of Petitioner, which earned a national title as the fifth-ranked brief in the nation. Though Holy Cross has competed in oral argument for the past decade, this year was the first that a team had ever submitted a written brief for review.  Following Fimognari and Bender’s national victory, it is likely to become a tradition. Holy Cross’s showing in Arizona marks the end of a successful 2013-2014 season. Next year’s case will be released in May.


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