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Merrimack Students Compete at Moot Court

February 07, 2014
8 students recently participated in two-person teams at Moot Court.

The participating students were:

  • Kevin Robinson and Nick Santosuosso
  • Robert DiSorbo and Patrick Gillespie
  • Eric Price and Priscilla Khaknejad 
  • Greg Desmond and Doreen Suubi

Moot Court involves arguing constitutional issues in a hypothetical case in teams of two students as though the case was on appeal to the Supreme Court, with each team member arguing one issue. Students argue the law and whether the lower appellate court’s analysis of the law was correct or incorrect. The hypothetical case has already been decided by a trial court and the case is on appeal to determine whether the lower courts’ analysis and application of the law was correct. Students need to read and analyze selected Supreme Court decisions on the issue and use these cases in their arguments. Participating in Moot Court helps students enhance their ability to think on their feet, oral advocacy skills, and analytical and critical thinking skills. These are all skills they will need in their professional careers, for graduate study, and in law school. Moot Court also provides them the opportunity to do what lawyers do in arguing legal issues in court. This year’s issue involved an Article II presidential power issue of whether the president can indefinitely detain U.S. Citizens and a 4th Amendment illegal search and seizure issue regarding whether the government can track individuals via cellphone GPS.

The regional competition took place over two days and was held at Fitchburg State University in November. On the first day of competiton, each team argued the case three times in front of two judges for each argument. To advance to the next day’s single elimination round, a team needed to win three out of the six judges’ scoring sheets for the three rounds of arguments. Out of 64 teams, 32 teams advanced to the next day’s round. After the first rounds of arguments, the teams of Kevin Robinson/Nick Santosuosso and Bobby DiSorbo/Patrick Gillespie were ranked 8th and 6th respectively. Kevin Robinson was named one of the top 10 orators at the competition at number 8 and Robert DiSorbo finished at 11th. The teams of Kevin Robinson/Nick Santosuosso and Robert DiSorbo/Patrick Gillespie advanced to the next day’s round.

On the final day, Robert and Patrick lost in a close round in the first elimination round to a team that included a top 10 orator. Kevin and Nick won two rounds to make it into the quarter-finals. At the quarter-finals, they lost in a very close match by a 3 to 2 vote out of 5 judges. Both of these teams qualified for and participated at the national competition at the Sandra Day O’Connor Law School at the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona on January 17th and 18th..

64 teams with 128 students competed from Fitchburg State (5), Patrick Henry College (5), Holy Cross (3), Bentley (4), Bridgewater State (3), Williams College (4), SUNY-Brockport (3), SUNY-Albany (4), The College of New Jersey (5), Merrimack College (4), Wheaton College (2), Hunter College (4), Queen’s College (4), University of Connecticut (1), Elms College (5), Duke University (4), Suffolk University (1), and Western Connecticut University (1)

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