Wake Forest National Moot Court team advances to national finals

Wake Forest’s two National Moot Court teams competed very successfully in a regional tournament the weekend of Nov. 20-21 in Richmond, Va., with both teams advancing to the regional quarterfinals, and one team going on to earn a trip to New York City in February for the national finals. Twenty teams, from 11 law schools, competed in the tournament.

The teams are nicknamed for Wake Forest’s school colors. The “Gold Team” this year consisted of third-year students Jimmy Byars, Nicole Dupre and Pat Gallagher. On the “Black Team” are third-year students Katy Aultman, Rich McPherson and Mark Pendleton. The issues in this year’s problem are the proper test for a motion to change venue based on pretrial publicity in a criminal case, and the constitutionality of a life without parole sentence for a juvenile convicted of a non-homicide crime.

Both teams worked very hard after completing their briefs in mid-October, with many formal and informal oral argument practices, before professors, local attorneys and friends. Support from the law school community was crucial and highly appreciated.

On the first morning in Richmond, the Gold Team defeated Elon with a perfect oral argument score. The judges especially praised Dupre for turning questions around to her favor and Byars for a “fantastic demeanor,” said Professor John Korzen, the coach of both teams. In the afternoon, the Gold Team narrowly lost to a team from Louisville. The Gold Team finished in the top eight due to its overall score and advanced to the quarterfinal round the next morning, before falling to a team from George Mason. “All three Gold Team members did a great job of arguing in both a conversational and a persuasive way,” Korzen added.

The Black Team defeated a team from William & Mary on the first morning and a team from the University of North Carolina in the afternoon. The next morning, the Black Team defeated a team from Duke in the quarterfinals and then a team from Kentucky in the semi-finals. The team thereby earned a trip to New York City for the finals, because the top two teams from each regional advance. In the finals, a team from George Mason topped the Black Team.

“Judges throughout the tournament praised the Black Team for using both the factual record and case law in answering answers, remaining poised, and managing their time well,” noted Korzen.

Now the Aultman/McPherson/Pendleton team will take a well-deserved break, before preparing in earnest for the February national finals in New York, where 28 teams from around the country will meet.

The National Moot Court Tournament is one of eight tournaments that Wake Forest Law School’s Moot Court program has entered this school year. Other tournaments will be held in the spring semester.