8 students to compete in Duke Moot Court

By Sarah Novicoff

Four teams of two students each have qualified for the Duke Moot Court High School tournament on Feb. 25 and 26. Only 42 teams from across the country qualified for the tournament.

“[8 people qualifying for this tournament is] the most we’ve had, we’re working hard and I’m expecting good things,” science teacher and coach of the Moot Court team David Hinden.

The competition takes place annually and according to the tournament website, “hundreds of teams of two students submit essays on a specific Supreme Court decision in order to enter the tournament.”

Members of the Moot Court team have won this tournament twice – last year Ben Dreier ’11 and Andrew Hartford ’11 won arguing the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act and four years ago Danielle Kolin ’08 and Melissa Saphier ’08 won arguing the availability of the writ of habeas corpus to alien detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

After each round, Speaker Points are awarded to the individual members and the Justice decides which side won the case. There are five preliminary rounds on the first day; the quarterfinals, semifinals and Final rounds will take place on the second day. The Final Round is judged by a combination of professors, judges, legal scholars and lawyers – unlike the other rounds which are judged by Duke University students in moot court, clarified the tournament website.

Moot Court is a competition in which students are presented with a fake case. Participants then use past cases to make an argument for or against the constitutionality of the action described in the case, explained moot court team member Katie Jung ’14.

After announcing the students who qualified based on the essays they submitted, Duke Moot Court sent the participants the case prompt. Using the prompt, the teams have been preparing their arguments for almost a month, practicing after school five days a week. The prompt regards the application of the First and Fifth amendments to a fake wiretapping case.

Students will depart on a late flight Thursday night Feb. 23 and spend Friday practicing at Duke University. They will return on Monday Feb. 27.