Seniors secure Moot win

Danielle Kolin ’08 and Melissa Saphier ’08 won first place out of 50 two-person teams at the Duke University International Moot Court Competition.

 The competition took place fromMarch 1 to 2 in Durham, N.C. Juniors Julia Hahn and Josh Oreman advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.

The hypothetical case that Kolin and Saphier argued dealt with whether a detainee at Guantanamo Bay should be allowed the right of habeas corpus.

“We had to alternate sides with the government arguing that he has no right to habeas corpus and the detainees arguing that he does,” Kolin said.

For the final round, they had to personify the detainees. The four participants wrote an essay last October to qualify for the competition.

Once they found out they’d qualified in January, they prepared for five weeks.
Under science teacher and former federal prosecutor David Hinden’s guidance, the students practiced for two hours afterschool everyday.

They reviewed hundreds of pages of courtroom cases to prepare arguments for either side.

At one point in the days before the competition, Hinden took them to the Federal District Court, where the students argued their case before Judge A. Howard Matz, husband of retired French teacher Jane Matz.

“The week before the competition, I recorded myself delivering the arguments, and I listened to it all the time — in the car on the way to and from school and even in the shower,” Saphier said.  “With our after-school and weekend practices and the time we spent at home writing our arguments, we had spent well over 100 hours preparing by the time we left for Duke.”

At Duke over the course of a day and a half, Kolin and Saphier argued their case eight times before winning first place.

“I was extremely proud of all the kids,” Hinden said. “And [I’m] obviously  thrilled at their success, but the process of preparation and competition is what sticks.”

“After a very down month at school, they reminded me what a privilege and joy it is to work with such wonderful young people.”