UF shines at international moot court competition
UF’s International Moot Court Team came home regional runner-ups in the Phillip C. Jessup Southeast Regional Competition in Atlanta Feb. 16-18. The competition is the world’s largest and most prestigious moot court competition. More than 300 teams from 50 countries compete each year. This year’s team, led by Coach Jason Schneider, had high hopes and expectations. In each round of competition, three judges each awarded two points to the winning oralists and one point for the winning brief. A total of nine points were awarded in each round. In the first round, Brian Bell and Richard Mockler represented the Applicant, and defeated South Carolina 9-0. Brian Koch and Lara Peppard represented the Respondent, and defeated Florida State 6-3 in round two. Round three matched Bell and Mockler with University of Miami Respondents. The UF Applicant team defeated the Hurricanes 7-2. In the fourth round, UF Respondents faced a traditionally strong Stetson team. After 40 minutes of excellent arguments from Stetson, everyone was anxious to hear the UF response. Peppard exposed several weaknesses in the Stetson argument and Koch finished strong to win 5-4. Saturday night, the competition recognized the UF Briefs, and announced the team would move on to the semifinal round to face Alabama. After winning the coin-toss, Alabama chose to argue for the Applicant, and place their best team against UF. (Alabama’s Jessica Stetler had won Second Place Best Oralist in Saturday’s competition.) After both teams presented their primary arguments, everyone was sure the UF team was behind, but each team had five minutes of rebuttal remaining. Stetler limited rebuttal to Alabama’s strongest point, and Koch turned in the tournament’s finest performance by arguing for fairness and equity to prevail over the narrow rule of law. After an hour of deliberation, the judges agreed to send UF to the Championship Round to face Georgia. Georgia pitted the tournament’s Best Oralist against Mockler and Bell, who had outscored Saturday’s opponents by a combined score of 16-2. Because the Semi-Final judges required over an hour to reach a decision, Mockler and Bell had only 20 minutes to prepare for Georgia. Facing one of the competition’s most active benches, the UF Applicant team fielded 40 minutes of questions focused on fairness, rather than case law, custom, or the legal rule. On rebuttal, Mockler pointed out six occasions where Georgia took liberties with the law and facts,and asked the Court to maintain peace by enforcing international law. At the close of oral arguments, no one was certain who would be the Regional Champions. The judges announced that Georgia won the Championship by “a nose,” but the Florida team finished (5-1) and took home Regional Runner-up honors.