The Buffalo Law Experience

Law students shine at the School of Law’s annual Desmond Moot Court

Gabrielle K. Walter ‘18, Jason Fleischer ‘17, Hon. Erin Peradotto ’84, Farina Mendelson ’17, Hon. Eugene Pigott, Jr. ’73, Ari M. Goldberg ‘17, Diane Elizabeth Orosz ‘18

The University at Buffalo School of Law held its annual Charles S. Desmond Moot Court Competition on October 22, 2016. The team of Gabrielle Walter ‘18 and Diane Elizabeth Orosz ‘18 edged the team of Ari Goldberg '17 and Jason Fleischer '17 to win the final round, held before Hon. Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. ‘73, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and Hon. Erin M. Peradotto ‘84, Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

At the awards banquet following the competition, Walter was named best oralist while Fleischer and Goldberg won the award for best brief. For the first time, a Professor George Kannar Appellate Advocacy Award was presented to Goldberg, whose combined scores on the brief and oral arguments made him the best overall advocate at the Competition. The new award is named for the long-time teacher of constitutional law and former Director of Moot Courts, who is retiring at the end of the current academic year, in recognition of his dedication to the Buffalo Moot Court Board and appellate advocacy training at the School of Law.

Organized by the School of Law's Buffalo Moot Court Board, the Charles S. Desmond competition is one of the most popular courtroom competitions the Law School offers. Ten teams comprised of two advocates competed in this year’s competition.

Each team argued before a panel of volunteer judges on a constitutional law issue. The judges came from all across Western New York, and represented many alumni classes from the School of Law. This year’s problem was a hypothetical U.S. Supreme Court case involving two consolidated appeals from the Second Circuit: Our Daily Bread, Inc. v. Melinda Patterson, et al. The case presented two questions:

  1. Whether the exclusion of religious organizations from a subsidized program violates the Free Exercise clause of the United States Constitution?
  2. Whether the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service properly denied tax-exempt status to a non-profit, as a religious organization under the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)?

After a number of hard-fought and closely decided rounds, only two teams advanced to the Final Round and argued before the distinguished University at Buffalo School of Law alumni bench.

This is the full list of award winners:

Best brief: Ari Goldberg '17 and Jason Fleischer '17
Runner-up, best brief: Erin Goldberg and Lauren Adornetto
Best oral advocate: Gabrielle Water '18
Runner-up, best oral advocate: Ari Goldberg '17

George Kannar Award for the Best Appellate Advocate: Ari Goldberg '17

Team Finalist: Gabrielle Walter '18 and Diane Orosz '18
Team Runner-up: Ari Goldberg '17 and Jason Fleischer '17

The Moot Court Board thanks the judges and clerks for their valuable time and the competitors for all their hard work.