Students advance to finals of national moot court competition

Advancing to the "Elite Eight" round were from left, Caitlin O'Neil, Alexandra Lugo and Mark Murphy.

Advancing to the "Elite Eight" round were from left, Caitlin O'Neil, Alexandra Lugo and Mark Murphy.

Published June 19, 2014

A SUNY Buffalo Law School team won second place and another was recognized for “Best Respondent Brief” during the Northeast Regional round of the national Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition (FDMCC), held Jan. 22-26 in Albany.

The second-place team will advance to the national round of the competition, to be held in March in Milwaukee.

It’s the second year in a row in which a UB team has advanced to the national round and has won the regional “best brief” award.

“This unprecedented back-to-back showing is a remarkable achievement by our students,” says Professor George Kannar who oversees the school’s moot court program.

The FDMCC is a national appellate advocacy competition organized each year since 1975 by the National Black Law Student Association, the largest law student organization in the United States. The Northeast Regional round was held during the recent convention of the Northeast Black Law Students Association.

In the 2014 regionals, four teams from the Law School advanced through the elimination rounds to the regional “Sweet 16.” The team members were Paul Meabon (3L) and Todd Potter Jr. (2L), Alexandra Lugo (3L) and Mark Murphy (2L), Caitlin O’Neil (2L) and Samih Tayeh (2L), and Elizabeth Lee (3L) and Matthew Turetsky (3L).

Teams argue at least three times in preliminary rounds before the “Sweet 16” teams are selected.

Meabon and Potter, along with Lugo and Murphy, progressed to the competition’s “Elite Eight” quarterfinal round. Lugo and Murphy moved on to the “Final Four,” and then to the “top two” final round, where they were awarded second place and qualified as one of the three Northeast region teams advancing to the national competition in Milwaukee. 

The team of O’Neil and Tayeh received the Best Respondent Brief award.

To be chosen to represent the Law School in the FDMCC, students must take part in an intramural selection process, submitting a writing sample and delivering a mock oral argument. Successful competitors are then matched into teams of two.

For the FDMCC itself, each team is required to complete a 30-page brief based on a fictional fact pattern presenting constitutional issues. This year’s fact pattern dealt with the constitutionality of a fictional amendment to the Controlled Substances Act, ineffective assistance of counsel and potentially unconstitutional prison conditions under the Fifth and Eighth amendments.

Several local attorneys acted as “judges” during the teams’ oral argument practice rounds, providing feedback and support. They included Frank Ewing ’12, Natalie Pellegrino ’13, and Paul Iya ’13.