By Alissa Robertson and Chelsea Rankin.
Patrick Henry College
Despite stiff competition this year, moot court coaches Dr. Michael Farris and Dr. Frank Guliuzza believe PHC moot court teams are equipped to excel at January’s ACMA (American Collegiate Moot Court Association) National tournament at Regent University. PHC has won six national tournaments and is the four-time defending national champion.
“Moot court is an activity that is growing at a fast pace,” Guliuzza said. “The competition gets better and better every year and there are more teams that can beat you. Each round is getting to be closer.”
The teams selected to compete in the National tournament began moot court “boot camp” in early January.
Each participating school is only allowed to send up to 8 teams, comprising a total of 80 teams competing at the National level. PHC founder and Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris, and Dr. Guliuzza have handpicked the teams that might provide PHC with the “best chance of success” and who might best benefit from the experience.
“PHC has qualified 8 teams for the national moot court tournament for the 11th straight year,” Dr. Mike Farris said. “I am confident that any of our teams could win the national championship. I am also certain that other colleges are steadily improving and we will face stiff competition. In terms of preparing students for life skills, we have already achieved a great deal of success.”
Teams selected to compete include Blake Meadows and Ben Williamson, Andrew Ferguson and Katie Tipton, Lauren Fischer and Ruan Meintjes, Claire Rossell and Elizabeth Ertle, JC Cartee and Kayla Griesemer, James Nelson and John Ehrett, James Compton and Samuel Johnson, and Cameron Etchart and Sam Cordle.
Sophomore Katie Tipton
Logan Spena, Patrick Henry College’s moot court assistant coach, assisted in the decision. Spena has coached PHC moot court teams during the fall 2012 semester and attended all of the qualifying tournaments.
“While our regional performance doesn’t sport the sterling record that we’ve enjoyed in years past, the teams we’re sending to nationals will have something other teams didn’t – a few credit hours in the school of hard knocks,” Spena said. “We have eight highly qualified teams, and I believe all of them know exactly what it will take to win the national championship this year. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMCA) hosted regional tournaments in Orlando, Fla., Fitchburg, Mass., Long Beach, Calif., and Lynchburg, Va. this year. PHC sent a total of 19 teams to the regional competitions.
The Mid–Atlantic tournament was held at Liberty University’s Law School, where 36 teams from various colleges argued both sides of the first and fourteenth amendments. All nine Patrick Henry College moot court teams at the ACMCA Mid–Atlantic regional tournament in Lynchburg, Va., broke into out-rounds two weeks ago despite being PHC’s least experienced teams.
PHC did exceptionally well considering its opponents, Regent University and the University of Virginia, PHC student Joseph Samelson said.
“Given the quality of competition at the tournament, we should not have been able to dominate the tournament like we did,” Guliuzza, said. “All of the PHC teams met or exceeded reasonable expectations.”
Guliuzza believes moot court is important in developing the minds of students.
“It’s exemplary training for anything you want to do,” he said. “We’ve never had a student who wanted to go to law school, who competed in moot court or mock trial, and didn’t get into law school.”
Besides training the mind in logic and being able to speak elegantly in front of groups of people, Guliuzza said it also enables students to have a command of over 200 cases and be able to cite them on demand.