Students Compete at the National Environmental Moot Court Competition

IMG953481The student team representing the University of Wyoming College of Law at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, hosted by the Pace University Law School, had a successful run competing this past weekend, Feb. 19-21, 2015. The team of second-year law students Casandra Craven, Monica Houston and Jasmine Fathalla, was selected to represent the College of Law after the intraschool Davis & Cannon, LLP Natural Resources Law Moot Court Competition during the fall 2014 semester.

Each February, law students from around the country assemble at Pace Law School to compete in the national event. The competition is the largest interschool moot court competition of any kind under one roof, attracting in excess of 200 competitors from diverse law schools and 200 attorneys who serve as judges. The teams are presented with a unique problem, drawn from real environmental cases, with three parties, much like real environmental litigation with an industry party, a state or federal government party, and a conservation group party. Each team writes a brief for one of the three parties and files that brief in November. The teams come to the Pace campus in White Plains, New York in mid-February for oral arguments. Each team argues all three sides, taking a different side during each round. Switching sides provides a vigorous intellectual workout, as the competitors must understand the legal arguments and strategies of all three sides and be able to deliver a persuasive argument on the position assigned.

The College of Law team advanced through three preliminary oral argument rounds in the national competition, beating out the teams from UCLA, Tennessee, Florida and Houston along the way. The team just missed a chance to advance to the quarterfinal round. Advancement is extremely competitive, with only 27 of up to 81 teams advancing after the preliminary rounds. Though they did not make it to the upper rounds, the ladies represented Wyoming well and brought home the accolade of Casandra Craven being awarded “best oralist” during the team’s second and third rounds, narrowly beating out her teammate Jasmine in the second round. Before the best oralist in the first round was announced, the coaches from the two other teams in that round touted Casandra Craven as best oralist as well.  The loss of the extra accolade in that round was by a slim margin, and the recognition by two other coaches was well-deserved.

After each round the team received an overwhelming majority of positive comments from the judges. One judge of twenty years said she had never seen a team pick up what the other teams were arguing and use it to their advantage as well as Wyoming’s team. She also praised the team for following up seamlessly on questions posed by judges to the other teammate earlier in the argument, which demonstrated teamwork, preparation, and an advanced set of oral advocacy skills.

The team received coaching support from members of a former University of Wyoming team that took second place at the Moot Court participants UWYONational Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in 2010, Christyne Martens (J.D. ’10), Temple Stoellinger (J.D. ’10), and Maryt Fredrickson (J.D. ’10), who donated her time to the law school to accompany the team to White Plains, New York for the competition. The team also had coaching support from the law school faculty and members of the Wyoming Bar, including the Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael (J.D. ’85) and other members of the Attorneys General’s Office including James Kaste, (J.D. ‘98), Dave Ross, and Blake Klinkner.

Coach Maryt Fredrickson said after the competition “I am thrilled to see a team of this caliber represent the College of Law. This group worked perfectly as a team, with each oralist evenly matching their teammates in every round and supporting each other in practice rounds, drilling each other with practice questions. They worked hard prior to the competition and continued that demanding work while in New York. These students reflect terrific skills as oral advocates and have bright futures as practicing attorneys.”

The College of Law is overwhelmingly proud of Casandra, Jasmine and Monica on their performance!