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Law students face off in 80-year-old tradition: Moot Court Honorary Round

April 20, 2023 10:45 AM
Alina Hernandez

Clarence "Trey" Roby (L'23) won the Honorary Round, the final lap of the season for the Tulane Moot Court Program. Abby Bello Salinas, also a 3L, and a top oralist in the program, competed against Roby before a panel of three federal judges. Both students will see their names "on the marble;" the Honorary Round determines whose name will go first. (Photo Credit: Alina Hernandez)


A veteran of the Tulane Moot Court Program and past national champion of the BLSA discipline took home the first-place spot in the annual Moot Court Honorary Round held April 19.

Third-year law student Clarence “Trey” Roby will see his name placed first “on the marble” in the Wendell H. Gauthier Moot Court Room after he won the decision by a panel of federal judges in the annual intraschool competition Honorary Round.

Roby and Abby Bello Salinas, also a 3L and a Moot Court program member, faced off before a panel of “Supreme Court Justices” --  all Tulane alumni and all federal judges in the Eastern District of Louisiana – Judge Janis van Meerveld (NC '84, L *87) Judge Wendy Vitter (L’86) and Judge Barry Ashe (A&S '78, L *84).

Judge Vitter, Judge Ashe, Roby, Salinas, Judge van Meerveld
 and Dean Meyer.

"Seeing my name on the marble has been a personal goal of mine since my first tour of the law school in the fall of 2019," said Roby. "It is truly a great feeling to see all of the hard work and long hours come to fruition. Congrats to Abby as well, she's one of the best oralists in our class!" 

The student competitors argued Little v. Marlo Motors, Inc., an appellate case seeking clarification of when a state has personal jurisdiction over a corporation whose goods – an autonomous vehicle in the case – find their way into the state.  The meaning of classic law school cases familiar to all lawyers such as International Shoe were hotly debated between Roby and Salinas.  The case also concerned, from a torts perspective, whether a vehicle is defective because it is “unreasonably dangerous.”

See photos from the Honorary Round.

Within minutes of the start of arguments, it was clear it would be a hot bench with the Justices interjecting time and time again as both counselors made their case. The student competitors were asked by the Justices for record citations, questioned on how the court should interpret different cases, and forced to defend what the implications would be if the court ruled for their side.  As the judges noted after the argument, both Roby and Salinas performed their arguments with a great level of professionalism and were incredibly talented oral advocates. 

“Impressive,” said Judge van Meerveld after the decision was announced, noting that both students had an exceptional grasp of case law, and the legal understanding behind it.

Roby presenting petitioner's case.

“I hope to see both of you, soon, in my court,” said Judge Ashe.

Vitter also praised the students, reminding them that they will soon be proud members of the Bar, with a responsibility to uphold the best standards of the profession.

The Honorary Round is the highlight of the more than 80-year-old Moot Court tradition at Tulane Law which has seen a surge in recent years of student membership. The program received a boost in funding and active support from generous alumni, notably Evan Trestman (L ’77). In recent years, alumni and partners with the New Orleans law firm Herman, Herman & Katz enhanced the program with an endowment of the Harry Herman Moot Court Excellence Fund to be used for Moot Court programming and the trial and appellate advocacy program. 

“The intraschool competition — arguing to be on the Marble — is a long-standing tradition at Tulane Law and an opportunity to showcase our finest talent in the area of appellate oral advocacy," said Tulane Law Vice Dean Sally Richardson. "Trey and Abby were outstanding competitors and demonstrated the strength of the Tulane Moot Court program. To have the arguments take place before three federal judges, all Tulane Law alums, shows how Tulane has and continues to produce the finest lawyers.”

Roby, originally from New Orleans, has been a Moot Court participant and coach during his three years at Tulane Law. He and his teammate Reagan Roy (L’23) won the national 2022 Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition, which took place as part of the 54th Annual National Black Law Students Association Oral Advocacy Competitions. The duo swept all the winning categories, winning Best Oralist, Best Brief and Best Overall Team.

After graduation, Roby will join the New Orleans firm of Burns Charest LLP and will practice in the areas of class action/consumer protection, antitrust, and intellectual property, among others. 

Salinas speaks to Judge Ashe.

Salinas (B '19, L *23), from Maryland, is a graduate of Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and received her master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis. As a Tulane Law student, she clerked for the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals and served as an interpreter for the Tulane Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

Also a veteran of the Moot Court Program, Salinas competed with the International Criminal Court Appellate Team (ICC) and won a second-place defense oralist award in the ICC Pace Competition during her first year in the program. She competed this year as a member and was an oralist for state counsel in front of a panel of judges.

After graduation, she will join Peckar & Abramson’s Washington, D.C. office where she will practice government contracts and construction litigation.