In a close contest, Kelsey Frobisher and Blake Johnson were declared the winning team in Friday’s final of the 2013 Calvert Moot Court Competition at OU Law.
Frobisher and Johnson argued the position of the respondents in Town of Greece, New York v. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, a real case that is on the U.S. Supreme Court docket this term, but has not yet been heard by the justices. Runners-up Joe Trail and Mahtab Doty argued on behalf of the city.
The question presented was “whether the (Second District) Court of Appeals erred in holding that a legislative prayer violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity?”
The finalists, all second-year law students, had about a month to prepare for the competition. They read the actual briefs filed by the attorneys who will be arguing the case before the Supreme Court. The students thoroughly researched both sides of the case because they have to be ready to argue both sides during different rounds of the competition.
“All of these students did a tremendous job,” OU Law Dean Joseph Harroz said. “I and the other members of the judging panel complimented both sides on how well prepared they were and their professionalism.”
Joining Dean Harroz on the judging panel were Justice Noma Gurich, Oklahoma Supreme Court; Justice Douglas Combs, Oklahoma Supreme Court; Judge William Hetherington, Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals; Judge Stephen Friot, Western District of Oklahoma; Judge David Russell, Western District of Oklahoma; Judge Wayne Alley, Western District of Oklahoma, retired, and Jurist in Residence; and Professor Rick Tepker, Floyd & Irma Calvert Chair in Law and Liberty Professor of Law.
“All the judges said they would welcome any of these competitors in their courtrooms. It was an outstanding competition with outstanding competitors,” said Professor Connie Smothermon, OU Law’s Director of Competitions.
Friday was the fifth time the finalists had argued one side of the case or the other, having advanced through two preliminary rounds, an “elite eight” round and the “final four.” Other semifinalists included Patrick Ahern, Brian Koss, Brooke Churchman and Justin Hedges.