USD moot court teams fare well

USD moot court teams fare well The University of South Dakota School of Law moot court teams excelled at two different competitions held this spring.

Faculty advisor Jon Van Patten accompanied second-year students Stephanie Amiotte and Steve Pfeiffer, and third-year student Todd Brink, all of Sioux Falls, at the western regional moot court tournament of the American Association Law Student Division's annual National Appellate Advocacy Competition. The USD team placed in the top five of at the competition, held at the U.S. Court of Appeals Courthouse. Competing against 36 schools from the western U.S., the USD team lost only its fifth and final round of the tournament. In the competition, the moot court team addressed a hypothetical lawsuit involving disputed ownership of a prototype machine.

Another USD team, consisting of third-year student Dotty Bollinger of Vermillion and second-year Janel Dybdahl of Marshall, MN, had a 3-1 record during four rounds of competition at the National First Amendment Competition held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Sponsored by the Vanderbilt School of Law and the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum, Bollinger and Dybdahl competed against 20 teams nationally. This competition addressed the issue of freedom of speech in public schools.

Amiotte, Pfeiffer, Brink, Bollinger and Dybdahl are members of the USD School of Law's Moot Court Board. Each year, the Moot Court Board sends its members to competitions across the U.S. To prepare, the law students are presented with hypothetical fact patterns months in advance of the tournament date. Based on that fact pattern, the students write a legal brief to an appellate court. The students practice oral argument based on the positions they take in the brief. At the competition, students make arguments before a mock appellate court, which is usually composed of practicing attorneys and judges. These tournaments provided students an opportunity for the practice of law through experiences in problem solving, legal analysis, writing and speaking.

The 1998-99 school year has been a successful one for the USD Moot Court Board. In November, a team of three board members finished runner-up at the regional tournament of the National Moot Court competition, sponsored by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. USD team members included second-year students Steve Siegel of Aberdeen, Shawn Lohnes of Sioux Falls, and Jeff Bratkiewicz of Sioux City, IA. The three-member USD team, accompanied by USD faculty advisor Jon Van Patten, competed against 27 other teams from across the United States.

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