N.C. Supreme Court justice: 'Always an opportunity to learn'
In remarks at a Saturday evening banquet, the Hon. Barbara Jackson encouraged participants of Elon Law’s Eighth Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition to find mentors and to understand the importance of lifelong learning.
For the Hon. Barbara Jackson, one of the greatest joys of practicing law and serving as a judge on the Supreme Court of North Carolina is that she has “remained a lifelong learner, both by choice and of necessity.”
Every day she encounters a new problem or issue, Jackson said, a new question looking for an answer. Sometimes answers are found through legal research skills that developed in law schools. Sometimes they require knowledge shared by others in the profession who have more experience or wisdom.
“There’s always an opportunity to learn, and someone with something to teach you,” Jackson told dozens of law students Saturday evening in an awards banquet for Elon Law’s Eighth Annual Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition. “That person could be someone more or less experienced that you are. She may be another lawyer, or a client.
“The important thing is to be open to that continuing learning experience incumbent upon everyone who chooses to study the law.”
Jackson’s advice was delivered shortly before Ava Goble and Holly Boggs of the University of Georgia School of Law were crowned tournament champions by edging out a team from the University of Houston Law Center in the final round of the competition.
Goble captured individual honors by winning Best Oral Advocate in the final round. The best brief awards in the competition were received by Jayelle Lozoya and Kody Lyons of South Texas College of Law Houston, and Julia Peebles and David “Carter” Dickson of the University of Houston Law Center. Daniel Philyow from the University of Georgia School of Law took honors as the Best Oral Advocate in the preliminary rounds.
Twenty-one teams from 16 law schools across the country competed in this autumn’s Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition with dozens of attorneys and judges grading briefs and judging oral arguments during the event.
The moot court competition involved legal arguments surrounding the fictional case of a private family planning center with a pro-life mission that was fined because it refused to inform clients of the existence of publicly funded family-planning services that, among other services, also offered abortions and FDA-approved contraception.
The family planning center had argued that the ordinance requiring such communication violated the free exercise of religion, and the freedom of speech guarantee, protected by the First Amendment.
The first-place team received a replica of Elon Law’s Chief Justices’ Cup and has its school name engraved on the permanent trophy that resides at Elon Law. Each individual member of the first-place team also receives a plaque.
The University of Georgia and the University of Houston Law Center teams argued in the final round before a panel of five judges including Jackson; the Hon. L. Patrick Auld of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina; The Hon. Sam Ervin IV of the Supreme Court of North Carolina; and the Hon. Richard Dietz and the Hon. Robert N. Hunter Jr. of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
The semifinal rounds also featured teams from South Texas College of Law Houston and Florida International University College of Law. The semifinal rounds were judges by Judges Lindsay R. Davis, Jr, Richard L. Doughton, James L. Gale, and Charles H. Henry from the North Carolina Superior Court, as well as District Court Judge Carrie Vickery, a member of Elon Law’s charter class in 2009, and Associate Deans Enrique Armijo and Steve Friedland from Elon Law’s faculty.
As a member of Elon Law's Moot Court Board, Melissa Watkins L’Dec.’17 authored the problem at the center of the fall competition. “The level of difficulty makes this a problem perfect for the high caliber of teams we host at BEF,” she said.
The Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition honors three former North Carolina Supreme Court chief justices – Rhoda Bryan Billings, James Exum, and Henry E. Frye, all founding members of Elon Law’s Advisory Board – and each year focuses on constitutional law issues.
Moot court teams participated in three preliminary rounds of oral argument, after which the field was narrowed for quarterfinal, semifinal and championship rounds. Teams submitted briefs in advance of the competition, representing either the petitioner or the respondent in the hypothetical case before the United States Supreme Court. Competitors were judged on the quality of their appellate brief and oral arguments.
Until this autumn, Elon Law’s moot court competition had been held in the springtime. The school’s move to a 2.5-year curriculum with third-year students graduating in December led to a shift in the schedule.
“We moved the competition to the fall to allow our third-year students to have the opportunity to lead the program before graduating,” said Alan Woodlief, Elon Law’s senior associate dean and director of the Moot Court Program. “We were very honored that many of the teams that had just been here in April returned in October to compete, and several new schools joined us this fall.
“Many of them commented that they will definitely be adding the competition to their regular fall competition schedule, given the high quality of the problem, organization of the competition and oral argument judging they experienced here this fall," he added. "It was also great to have so many Elon Law alums and other local attorneys and judges participated as oral argument judges. We could not put on such a well-regarded competition nationally without them.”