Moot Court showcases talent to state judges
By Matthew Goodwin (3L)
Special to FlaLaw Online
Students, faculty, alumni and distinguished guests filled every seat in the Martin H. Levin Advocacy Center Sept. 6 for the 28th annual Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Final Four Moot Court Competition. Guests watched four of the Florida Moot Court Team’s top competitors present arguments regarding freedom of speech and access to government information.
Andrew Oppenheim (2L) and Rebecca Eikleberry (2L) represented the petitioner, Casper Boggus, a self-proclaimed blogging journalist. Jennifer Fine (2L) and Samuel Spinner (2L) represented the respondent, the United States government. Amanda Bennis (2L), the alternate, acted as master of ceremonies and bailiff. This year’s issue concerned the pressing concerns of freedom of speech and the press under the First Amendment and United States citizens’ right to information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
A six-member panel of judges including Judge Steven Merryday (JD 75) of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Court of Florida, Judge Simone Marstiller of the 1st District Court of Appeal, Judge James Moody (JD 72) of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Court of Florida, Judge Lorrie S. Rowe from the 1st District Court of Appeals, Judge Elizabeth Jenkins (JD 76) of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Court of Florida, and Judge Stephanie Ray of the 1st District Court of Appeal, heard the arguments.
After an hour of intense oral argument in front of a hot bench, the judges announced the winners. Best oralist and best overall went to Andrew Oppenheim; best team went to Andrew Oppenheim and Rebecca Eikleberry; and best brief went to Stefan-José Garcia.
Speaking to the difficulty in arguing in front of your peers, Judge Merryday said, “this is the most difficult environment you will ever argue in…if you can argue here, you can argue anywhere.”
“You were more prepared than many of the attorneys who argue in front of the First District Court of Appeal,” Judge Rowe said before complimenting each competitor. “I truly encourage you all to argue a case one day.”
First-year students who are curious about the Florida Moot Court Team are encouraged to attend the information sessions that will be held this spring. Students may also visit the Florida Moot Court Team’s website at www.ufmootcourt.org for more information on the team.
Every summer, rising second-year law students have the opportunity to try out to become members of the Florida Moot Court Team. The top five competitors move on to the Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Final Four Moot Court Competition. Two competitors argue for the petitioner, two argue for the respondent, and one serves as an alternate and bailiff. All five students will receive scholarships funded by the Justice Campbell Thornal Endowment for outstanding performances in the summer intramural tryouts. Additional scholarships are awarded to the best oralist, best brief and best team. The competition is sponsored by Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe, P.A., which is recognized as one of the largest law firms in central Florida. Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe, P.A., has been sponsoring the competition for 28 consecutive years.
A webcast of the competition is available here.