A team of UT College of Law students advanced to the semifinals of the Herbert Wechsler National Criminal Moot Court Competition held April 9 at the State University of New York Buffalo School of Law in Buffalo.
UT law students Lindsey Cavese and Thomas Walsh were among the best four teams in the competition to argue before lawyers and judges a specific legal issue, which this year involved the question of whether a sentence of life without parole for a juvenile violates the Constitution. The teams research the legal issue, draft a 30-page brief arguing one side of the problem, and practice oral arguments as they would before the Supreme Court in an actual case.Walsh and Cavese argued both sides of the question, consistently winning until they were one of only four teams remaining of the 23 teams from across the country that competed.
“This is one of the strongest teams that I can recall, in any moot court competition, anywhere in the country,” said UT Associate Professor Gregory Gilchrist, who served as the faculty advisor to the team. “Moot court competitions require the students to research a complex legal issue, write a formal appellate brief, structure a persuasive argument, hone their oral advocacy. And, on top of all this, the students need to think on their feet in a high-pressure situation. This year, Tommy and Lindsey excelled in all these roles and made UT proud.”
The judges, who complimented the UT teammates on their persuasive skills, demeanor and command of the relevant standards and cases, awarded Walsh the Ryan J. Mullins Memorial Award given to the competitor who best embodies the spirit, passion and enthusiasm of the competition.
“The competition was a great experience,” Cavese said. “It helped develop a practical set of skills I can take with me into the future as an attorney.”
The team was coached and accompanied in New York by UT College of Law student Katrin McBroom, who was able to provide advice based on her success the prior year as a member of the transactional health law moot court team. As the team coach, she was responsible for establishing deadlines on all projects, coordinating practice rounds, identifying guest judges for those rounds, and guiding Cavese and Walsh through the competition.
“After watching my colleagues practice so many times before attending the competition, it was thrilling to see them shine among 23 other teams,” McBroom said. “Every time we advanced on to the next round, we all shared an immense amount of excitement and pride for the UT College of Law.”