Elvira Nunez (’17) wins 44th annual George K. Walker Moot Court Competition

Group photo of Matt Cloutier ('17) and Elvira Nunez ('17)

Matt Cloutier ('17) and Elvira Nunez ('17)

Elvira Nunez  (’17)  won the 44th annual George K. Walker Moot Court Competition final round held at Wake Forest University School of Law on Friday, April 17. Nunez argued in opposition of Matt Cloutier (’17), who was named runner-up of the competition. 

The final round showcases the top two first-year law students in the moot court competition. Arguing a fictitious case alleging student-on-student sexual harassment in violation of Title IX,  Nunez was representing the Defendant Davie County School District while Cloutier represented the plaintiff.

The distinguished panel of judges included the Honorable Richard Dietz (’02),  North Carolina Court of Appeals; Dionne Jenkins (’06), staff attorney, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board; and Guilford County School Board Counsel Jill Wilson (’82), education attorney, Brooks, Pierce, Humphries & Leonard.

The judges were highly complimentary of both finalists. “Overall, you were both absolutely outstanding, better than many lawyers that argue appeals,” Judge Dietz said.

Wilson added that she was blown away by Nunez and how well she answered the judges’ questions. She was also impressed by Cloutier’s organization. “You were both very impressive,” she said.

Each judge gave the competitors some constructive criticism. Jenkins said she would have liked more facts from Cloutier and was expecting more rebuttal from Nunez. “But both of you did a wonderful, wonderful job overall,” she added.

The summary of the case that was at issue follows:

During the 2013-2014 school year, Piper Padgett and Liam Lanier were students at Kennedy High School, a school located in Davie County School District.  Padgett was selected for the lead role of “Millie” in the drama club’s winter production, “Eight Weeks,” which was a romantic comedy.  Lanier acted as the student director, and Ms. Adler served as the faculty director of the production.  Play rehearsals commenced in January 2014.  “Eight Weeks” was performed at Kennedy High School on April 2-4. Between January 2014 and April 2014, Liam Lanier made several verbal comments to or about Piper Padgett during school hours and/or school-related activities. In addition, during that same time period and while at school, Lanier touched Padgett on more than one occasion.  Padgett alleged that the verbal and physical conduct, which occurred in front of other students, constituted sexual harassment. Lanier testified that his conduct was merely typical high school behavior and that much of the conduct was in the context of the play.  Padgett claimed that as a result of the alleged harassment, she experienced a decline in school performance and participation in school activities. In addition, Padgett testified to some psychological problems about which she consulted a doctor. Plaintiff Hope Padgett, as next friend of Piper Padgett, filed an action against Defendant Davie County School District, alleging student-on-student sexual harassment in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 (2012) (“Title IX”).  Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. In response, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the issues of whether the alleged harassment was severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive and whether it deprived Piper Padgett of access to educational benefits and opportunities.

The event, which is held each spring for first-year law students, fielded 115 initial competitors. Each student wrote a brief and argued twice, once “on-brief” and once “off-brief.” After two weeks, 19 students were invited to join Moot Court, and the top 16 competed in the following week in an elimination tournament leading up to the final round.

Nunez was not the only student to take home an award. Distinctions for Best Brief, Best Oralist and the Debbie Parker Memorial Moot Court Service Award were also awarded.

Mark Clare won the Best Brief award and the Best Oralist award went to Nunez. The Debbie Parker Moot Court Service Award went to Karon Fowler (’15) and Kelly Russo (’15).

The 2015 Walker Moot Court Competition co-chairs were Diana Castro (’16) and Katharine Yale (’16).  The Moot Court Board was made up of Chief Justice Ashley Waring (’15), Associate Chief Justice Aimee Durant (’15) and Marshall Kelly Russo (’15).

In addition to the finalists, the other new first-year members of the Moot Court Board Drew Culler, Emily Jeske, Kayleigh Butterfield, Charley Connor, Mia Falzarano, Katherine Haddock, Eric Benedict, Daniel Fowler, Steven Hemric, Matthew Kerschner, Malorie Letcavage, Sarah Remes, Blake Stafford, Ethan White, Catherine Berenato, Kyleigh Feehs and Paige Topper.

For more than 40 years, the Wake Forest Moot Court Board has conducted a moot court competition for first-year law students. In 1998, the Moot Court Board named this competition the George K. Walker Moot Court Competition in honor of Professor George Walker’s long-standing support of the Wake Forest Moot Court program.

The Debbie Parker Moot Court Service Award is an honor granted to either a member of the Moot Court Board or a participant in the Walker Moot Court Competition who exemplifies throughout the competition a spirit of dedication and service to Wake Forest University School of Law, as well as compassion and cooperation with his or her fellow students.