Moot court team ranks 11th nationally, invited to national championship

Published: October 24th, 2011

Category: News, Students

The Blakely Advocacy Institute at the University of Houston ranked the Florida Moot Court team as 11th nationally for the team’s outstanding performance in the 2010-2011 season.

“We are honored to be recognized for our achievements,” said Florida Moot Court President Leigh Anne Siddle (3L). “Our ranking is a reflection of a talented program that is developing as a competitive force on the national level.”

During its 2010-2011 competitions, members of the Florida Moot Court team won three regional championships, including the regional title at the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition, a Best Brief award at the Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, three Best Oral Advocate awards at the ABA National Competition, the National Tax Competition, and the Navy JAG Competition, and competed on UF’s team that won the national championship at the National Tax Competition.

The 32 ranking points earned by the Florida Moot Court team, when combined with the 10 points earned by UF Law’s team for the National Tax Competition, resulted in the University of Florida Levin College of Law being ranked 11th among all U.S. law schools and third among the public law schools in the most recent Blakely Advocacy Institute Rankings of moot court programs.

The top 16 schools in the ranking will compete in the Third Annual Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championship in Houston. This is the first time that any University of Florida moot court team has been invited to send a three-person team to the competition.

“The Florida Moot Court team is honored to be invited to the national championship in Houston,” Siddle said. “The Houston Team is eager to live up to the high standards set last year, and they are confident they will bring a national championship to the Levin College of Law.”

The team has already begun preparing for the January 2012 National Championship. Florida Moot Court’s Houston Team is comprised of Celia Thacker (3L), Monica Haddad (3L) and Alex Landback (3L). This year’s competition problem deals with the interpretation of environmental and criminal statutes in the context of a negligent chemical spill and subsequent witness tampering.

Thacker will write the appellate brief to be submitted in December. Meanwhile, Haddad, winner of Best Oralist at the 25th Annual Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Moot Court Final Four Competition in September 2010, and Landback, winner of Best Oral Advocate at the Robert Orseck Memorial Moot Court Competition during the Florida Bar Convention in June 2011, will be the team’s oral advocates.

The Florida Moot Court team is preparing for 10 regional and national competitions across the country this year, coordinating its members into two to three member teams to send to each competition. Competing members are tasked with preparing their appellate brief and arguing both sides of the case.

“This requires a thorough knowledge of the facts and underlying law as well as a firm grasp on the strengths and weaknesses of the case,” Siddle said.

Five of the Florida Moot Court team’s newest members competed in front of distinguished state and federal judges at the 26th Annual Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Moot Court Final Four Competition on Sept. 9. Danielle Grundt (2L), Amy Podolsky (2L), Kelsey Veitengruber (2L), and Brandon White (2L) argued in front of the panel of judges with Dylan Shea (2L) serving as alternate. White and Podolsky were selected as Best Team and Veitengruber won Best Oralist. Podolsky also won Best Overall and Best Brief as part of the intramural competition.

This year’s panel of judges included former Judge Monterey “Buddy” Campbell from the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal, Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington of the United States Middle District of Florida, Judge James S. Moody of the United States Middle District of Florida, and Judge Paul C. Huck of the United States Southern District of Florida.

“The Florida Moot Court Team is proud of the Final Four competitors as well as the 13 other new members,” Siddle said. “The team is excited about the upcoming competition year.”