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Reviving a Tulane Law Tradition: The Moot Court Competition

March 22, 2018

 Moot Court panorama

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The Moot Court Program has been aided by a substantial gift from Tulane Law alumni Evan Trestman (L’77), left, himself a successful trial lawyer.

For more than 80 years, Tulane law students have held annual moot court competitions in the spring, the winners of which have had their names etched into marble tablets hung in the Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room.

On those tablets are the names of some of the best-known Tulane Law graduates, many of whom went on to have distinguished careers that enabled them to influence cases – and law-making -- around the globe. In recent years, however, through lack of funding and dedicated alumni involvement, the competition had faded to become a shadow of its former self, usually with judges and competitors the only attendees.

All that changed Tuesday.

Two students – 3Ls Jay Jensen and Emma Moppert – argued a federal death penalty case (Hidalgo v. State of Arizona) in the final Moot Court Honorary Round in view of a packed auditorium and before a panel of three distinguished federal judges: the Hon. Eugene Davis (L’60) of the 5th Circuit; the Hon. Luis Felipe Restrepo (L’86), a judge of the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia; and the Hon. Sarah Vance (L’78) of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

During arguments and rebuttals on the constitutionality of Arizona’s application of the death penalty in first-degree murder cases, both students faced tough challenges to their arguments from the judges. In the end, it was Moppert who took the win as the top-performing appellate student advocate.

The final two competitors, winnowed through a series of moot court rounds in the fall semester, will both have their names engraved on “the marble.” The honorary round is less about securing a spot on the tablet than it is about whose name goes first.  It’s also about honoring the tradition of oral advocacy at Tulane Law.

The panel of judges – all Tulane Law alumni – proved to be a “hot bench.” They barely allowed arguments to begin before peppering both Jensen and Moppert with questions and challenges. In the end, Restrepo said there had been ‘lively debate on who to crown the winner.”

Moot Court 2

Third-year law student Emma Moppert (center), the winner of the Moot Court Honorary Round Tuesday, with the Hon. Luis Felipe Restrepo (L’86), a judge of the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia; the Hon. Sarah Vance (L’78) of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; her opponent, Jay Jensen (L’18); the Hon. Eugene Davis (L’60) of the 5th Circuit; and Law School Dean David Meyer.

The revival of Tulane’s Moot Court Honorary Round has been aided by a  substantial gift from Tulane Law alumni Evan Trestman (L’77), himself a successful trial lawyer.  Trestman created a significant endowment to support an expansion of Tulane’s moot court program.  The gift ensures law students, and the community’s future attorneys, are given the opportunity to learn the art of argument, an invaluable skill that Trestman has employed to great success throughout his career.

“I built my law practice from the ground up, which would not have been possible without a law degree and Tulane,” Trestman told the Tulanian last year. “We need leaders, and I believe that helping to build leadership that comes out of a great institution and law school can help make New Orleans and Tulane an even better place.”

Photos for this event can be found here.

 
   


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