By: Heather Jackson, Moot Court Board President
The Motions Competition at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law was created in 2007 by Ms. Ashley Pollock and other members of the Moot Court Board, and was named in honor of the late Judge Phillip S. Figa in 2008, following Judge Figa’s untimely passing. The competition was created to test students’ oral advocacy and critical thinking skills by asking students to argue in support of or in opposition to a Motion before local attorneys and judges.
In furtherance of the University’s mission to graduate practice-ready law students, this year, the Moot Court Board collaborated with Professor K.K. DuVivier to produce a competition which featured a Civil Procedure motion based on a real case pending before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Dish Network L.L.C. v. ABC, Inc. (S.D. N.Y. 2012)(Civil Action No. 12 Civ. 4155(LTS)(KNF)). With permission of the document authors, Professor DuVivier adapted the problem materials from pleadings in the case to create a problem that was interesting to competition judges, challenging for upper-level students, and manageable for first year Civil Procedure students.
Competitors were presented with 67 pages of pleadings and were invited to attend a primer lecture by Professor DuVivier to help them understand the problem issues and to instruct them on proper courtroom etiquette. Student competitors were instructed to prepare both sides of the case to argue the following Civil Procedure issues in support or in opposition to a motion filed by the defendant: (1) the purpose and appropriateness of a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 and (2) venue, including the role of a forum selection clause in controlling venue. Undaunted by this incredible challenge, twenty first and second year law students competed in several grueling rounds of mock Motions arguments before local attorneys and judges on Saturday, September 22, 2012.
Over thirty local practitioners and judges were in attendance to judge this competition and many expressed amazement at the professionalism and quality of arguments demonstrated by the untenured student competitors. As one local practitioner noted, competitions like this are largely responsible for the Sturm College of Law’s growing reputation for producing practice-ready graduates. The final round was judged by Judge Robert E. Blackburn of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Magistrate Judge Ruben Hernandez of the Denver Probate Court, and Ms. Candace Figa, a partner at the law firm of Burns, Figa, & Will.
Under rapid-fire questioning by this panel of esteemed judges and practitioners, the finalist competitors, Mr. Levi Price and Mr. Nicholas Santucci, demonstrated professionalism, creativity, and zealous advocacy in the presentation of their respective arguments. The final round was conducted in front of a packed house of practitioners, professors, and law students at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. In a unanimous decision by the judges, Mr. Levi Price was declared the winner and Mr. Nicholas Santucci was declared the runner-up of this competition. The Moot Court Board applauds each of the student competitors and would like to thank the professors, practitioners, and judges who selflessly volunteered their time to provide the students with this invaluable experiential learning experience and we sincerely hope to see this competition grow in popularity in future academic years.
“A wonderful performance.” Judge Boyd N. Boland
“Exemplary advocacy.” Judge Robert E. Blackburn
“I am in awe of the job you did today.” Judge Kristen L. Mix