The team of Scott Farmer and Adele El-Khouri, representing the petitioners, won Vanderbilt's 2012 Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court competition, with Katherine Matic and Tracy Hancock, representing the respondents, as finalists (all pictured right). The final round, held in Vanderbilt’s Flynn Auditorium on Friday, February 3, was the culmination of a competition that began in late September and involved 71 teams of 142 second-year law students.
Three distinguished circuit court judges—Judge Kermit V. Lipez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and Judge Jane B. Stranch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit—presided over the competition's final round. "We were so honored and appreciative that Judges Hardiman, Lipez, and Stranch were able to join us to judge this year's competition,” said Sarah Pazar, Chief Justice of the 2011-12 Vanderbilt Moot Court Board. “The competitors were outstanding, and our finalists rose to the challenge of this complicated problem and made Vanderbilt proud."
Competing teams wrote briefs for and then argued the case of Mayor Edward Hurley and the City of Waitsburg v. Washtonia Association of Humanist Liberties and Sarah Gonzalez, a problem written by Moot Court Board Executive Problem Editor Michael Walker and Associate Problem Editors John Arceci and John Williams with the help of Professor David Hudson and Tiffany Villager of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. The case involved a challenge to the public display of a monument commemorating the terrorist attacks of September 11. The monument, which was erected by a private party in a public park, includes a large replica of the “World Trade Center Cross,” a steel t-beam found in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Other symbols, including a Star of David and a depiction of a bald eagle, are subsequently added. “The problem required competitors to grapple with two unresolved questions in First Amendment law: When is the government a speaker, and what limits does the Establishment Clause place on the government’s speech?” Walker said. “It raised difficult questions about the role of religion in our constitutional scheme.”
As winners of the competition, El-Khouri and Farmer received the John A. Cortner Award, a cash prize endowed by the family of John Cortner, who served as Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board in 1984-85.
Johnna Herron was honored as Best Oralist, and the team of Remington Lenton-Young and Casey Leigh Miller was honored with the award for Best Brief.
The top 30 competitors were named to the 2012-13 Moot Court Board. They include Margaret Artz, Talor Bearman, Valisa Berber-Thayer, Angela Bergman, Sam Beutler, Beau Creson, Adele El-Khouri, Scott Farmer, Anthony Garcia, David Goldberg, Justin Gunter, Tracy Hancock, Andrew Hard, Johnna Herron, Melissa Hurter, Seamus Kelly, Remington Lenton-Young, Janna Maples, Katherine Matic, Rogan McCally, Ben McMichael, Kathleen Meyers, Michelle Peach, Sarah Reist, Wyatt Sassman, Peter Shaeffer, Katharine Skinner, Trey Tumminello and Tim Van Hal.
Judges Hardiman, Lipez and Stranch complimented the Moot Court Board for drafting a challenging and provocative problem and the four finalists for their arguments. “Members of the 2011-12 Moot Court Board did an outstanding job with this year’s competition, from drafting an interesting problem to organization and securing judges for almost 70 rounds,” said Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Sue Kay, who is faculty advisor to the Moot Court Board.