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Three moot court teams advance to national tournament

Three UNT teams will advance to the American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Championship Tournament at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University Jan. 17-18 after being selected by judges in the regional tournament at Texas Tech University School of Law Nov. 15-17.  

The UNT teams are among 11 out of 54 competing teams chosen to go to the national tournament from the southwestern region. The wins mean that UNT is in a strategic position to hold onto its fifth place ranking in the nation.

Kimi King“This is very impressive because we qualified three teams for nationals and won six speaker awards — more than any other squad in the region,” said Kimi King, right, professor of political science and UNT moot court coach of 14 years. “I’m particularly pleased that we advanced one team whose members have been to nationals previously, plus two new teams. We are looking forward to going and competing with the top teams in the country.”

Moot court is a simulation of appellate court proceedings in which students examine a legal problem and argue both sides of the case as petitioner and respondent before a group of judges. In the fictitious case Comerford vs. the United States of America, all teams prepared arguments concerning Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which examines whether the president of the United States has the constitutional authority to indefinitely detain and try Comerford in a military tribunal instead of in a civilian court before a jury of peers, and the Fourth Amendment, which considers whether the government’s warrantless tracking of Comerford’s cell phone for 23 straight days is an “unreasonable search and seizure” of private property.

Judges rank students across four categories:

  • Knowledge of subject matter
  • Response to questions
  • Forensic skill and courtroom demeanor
  • Organization, logic and clarity of argument

UNT’s winning students:

  • Megan Altobelli, a senior from Plano and political science major, and Jada Kent, a senior from Denton majoring in history with a minor in political science, ranked second among the teams advancing to the national tournament. Kent was additionally recognized with an orator award that placed her in a top 10 ranking among 68 participants. Altobelli received an orator award that placed her in the top 20. This is Kent and Altobelli’s first semester participating in moot court.
         “On the first day of school I marched into Dr. King’s office and announced that I wanted to be on the moot court team,” Kent said. “Dr. King is my hero. My entire life has changed so much as a result of this experience. Arguing cases is addicting — like being in a good conversation all day. The judges at Texas Tech really impressed me; they asked excellent questions and made it fun.”
         Both Altobelli and Kent will graduate in December and plan to attend law school in the fall.
  • The team of Alex Schwind, a senior from Grandview majoring in political science and history with minors in economics and German, and Taylor Ledford, a sophomore from San Antonio majoring in political science, tied for third place behind Altobelli and Kent. Ledford received an orator award that ranked him in the top 20.
  • MacKenzie Dunham, a senior from Aubrey and double major in political science and history, and his partner Blake Jackson, a senior economics major from Keller, advanced with the highest scores after the first day of competition and finished fifth overall. Jackson received an orator award with a top 20 ranking.

Additional speaker awards went to Conor McElroy, a junior majoring in history, whose award placed him in the top 20; and Eryn Mascia, a freshman of political science who recently won the Moot Court Champion title at the invitational Texas A&M University School of Law tournament; her award gives her a top 10 ranking.

- Julie West, News Promotions

Posted on: Wed 11 December 2013

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