Elon hosts fourth Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition
Twenty-five teams of law students representing 16 law schools participated in the fourth annual Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition at Elon University School of Law on March 28 and 29.
Each team in the competition participated in three preliminary rounds of oral argument, after which the field was narrowed for octofinal, quarterfinal, semifinal and championship rounds. Teams submitted briefs in advance of the competition, representing either the Petitioner or the Respondent in a hypothetical case before the Supreme Court of the United States that focused on a constitutional law issue currently under consideration by the Court. Competitors were judged on the quality of their appellate brief and oral arguments.
The competition champions were David Jones, Jessica Nadler and Candace Rodriguez of Southwestern Law School. They won a well-contested final round against the second place team comprised of Casandra Nelson, Randall Radziszewski and Ronnie White of Florida Coastal School of Law.
Jones, Nadler and Rodriguez also earned the Best Brief Award for Respondents’ Briefs. Rodriguez won the Best Oral Advocate award for the final round of the competition. White earned the second place Best Oral Advocate award for preliminary rounds.
Semifinalist teams included George Davis and Johnny Reid of Howard University School of Law and Tiffany Bennett, Chelsea Schlittenhart and Jaclyn Walliser of Regent University School of Law. Bennett, Schlittenhart and Walliser also earned the Best Brief Award for Petitioners’ Briefs.
Kathryn Spurlock of Florida Coastal School of Law earned the Best Oral Advocate award for preliminary rounds. Additional results from the competition are available here.
More than 100 distinguished judges and lawyers volunteered to serve as judges for the competition. Final round judges included: The Honorable Alan E. Norris, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; The Honorable Robert H. Edmunds, Jr., Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court; The Honorable Paul M. Newby, Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court; and The Honorable James G. Exum, Jr., Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court (ret.) and member of the faculty at Elon Law.
Semifinal Round Judges included: The Honorable L. Patrick Auld, Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina; The Honorable Lindsay R. Davis, Jr., Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, North Carolina Superior Court; The Honorable James L. Gale, Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases, North Carolina Business Court; The Honorable John M. Tyson, Recall Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals, and Emergency Judge, North Carolina Superior Court; The Honorable Ralph A. Walker, Associate Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals (ret.); and, Professor Andrew J. Haile, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Law, Elon University School of Law.
Twenty-four Elon Law alumni served as judges as well. A list of judges serving in the 2014 competition is available here.
Kristin DelForge, a member of the Class of 2014 and of the Moot Court Board at Elon Law, delivered welcoming remarks, thanking all those who served as judges in the competition on behalf of both the Moot Court Board and Elon University School of Law. George R. Johnson, Jr., dean and professor of law at Elon Law, welcomed the many competitors who participated in the competition and thanked the Elon Law faculty members who serve as coaches for Elon Law’s moot court program.
David Lambert, Wade Love and Annie Murphy, all members of the Class of 2014 and the Moot Court Board at Elon Law, spoke during the competition, offering special recognitions and presenting awards.
Alan Woodlief, senior associate dean for admissions and administration, associate professor of law, and director of the moot court program at Elon Law, thanked Moot Court Board members who contributed to organizing and hosting the competition.
“The service rendered by members of the Moot Court Board at Elon Law, as well as the volunteer time provided by distinguished members of the legal profession who serve as judges, make it possible for law students from across the country to hone their advocacy skills in the Billings, Exum and Frye National Moot Court Competition,” Woodlief said. “I greatly appreciate the contributions of so many people who make this a first rate national competition annually.”
The competition honors three of North Carolina's most distinguished lawyers: Rhoda Bryan Billings, James G. Exum, Jr. and Henry E. Frye. Each has served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina and in a variety of leadership positions within the legal profession and in public life. All three justices are founding members of Elon Law’s national advisory board. More information about Justices Billings, Exum and Frye is available here.
The Honorable Robert H. Edmunds, Jr., Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court, delivered the keynote address at the competition banquet. In his opening remarks, Justice Edmunds commented on the quality of advocacy displayed by law students in the competition.
“What we saw excellent, it has always been excellent, and you are to be congratulated on your fine work,” Edmunds told competitors. “Those of us in the outside world, who have been practicing or working with lawyers, and who might be said to be on the back nine of life, are always pleased to see that good people are coming along behind us. Your participation in this program really makes us all feel a lot better.”
Justice Edmunds focused his address on the importance of lawyers who defend unpopular figures in sustaining an effective justice system. He spoke in depth about the legal process following the Boston Massacre of 1770, emphasizing the value of John Adams’ legal advocacy for the accused British soldiers who were deeply unpopular figures in many quarters of the colonies at the time.
“A premature start of the revolution without all the colonies joined together, all agreeing that separation was the only solution, would have almost certainly ended in defeat,” Edmunds said. “By almost single handedly calming a dangerous moment when history easily could have taken a bad turn, Adams gave everyone time to simmer down, long enough for the revolutionary flame to be nurtured, to grow, to spread to the point where it could flare six years later. What allowed this outcome; a dedicated lawyer ably defending a bunch of highly unpopular criminal defendants. John Adams always said that he thought the worked he did in the Boston Massacre case was the best day’s work he ever did as a lawyer. But I will bet you a months salary that while he was doing it his friends were slipping up to him and saying, ‘John, how can you defend these people?’ How can we defend those people? That’s what we do. We’re lawyers.”
Additional information about the Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition at Elon Law is available at law.elon.edu/mootcourt.