Creighton Law School Celebrates Moot Court Contestants

Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

Following an hour of technical arguments in front of a panel of three prominent regional judges, the Gross Appellate Courtroom broke into applause as the judges went into chambers.

The annual Creighton University School of Law moot court competition revolved around determining whether a fictional law student possessed the character and fitness to sit for the bar exam.

“We are amazed,” Iowa Supreme Court Justice Susan Christensen said in remarks after the final round. “I tried to knock all of you guys off your feet.” 

The moot court competition is a mandatory part of student’s third semester legal writing studies. It requires research, brief writing and oral argument, demanding the students be prepared to formulate arguments and express themselves in front of judges.

Students presented their arguments in a fictional case, Michelle Jayme Ross v. Amster Bar Commission, an appeal alleging denial of due process in proceedings related to character and fitness hearings before a bar commission.

The case involves a law review editor who graduated summa cum laude but who, years earlier, had impersonated students to take the LSAT. She later went to the FBI to report the fraud, but she also had a felony drug arrest and a disciplinary counseling note in her academic file for absences.

The bar commission found she lacked the necessary character and fitness to take the bar exam. The commission said it denied her for her “academic and criminal history,” but an appeal hearing focused on the LSAT fraud, and she was denied an opportunity to cross-examine her former boss, who is a convicted felon.

Creighton second year law students Kristen Lindgren and Callie Kanthack represented the petitioner, and Creighton 2Ls Hallie Hamilton and Evyn Perry represented the respondent.

They presented before a panel of three judges: U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Steven Grasz, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican and Christensen.

The judges peppered each of the students with several questions, defending their party’s actions and citing precedence allowing the court to rule in their favor – while arguing doing so would be the best outcome for justice.

Ultimately, the judges found in favor of the respondent, declaring Hamilton and Perry the winners of the competition. Perry was declared the outstanding oralist.

In earlier decisions, Hamilton also won best brief, while 2L student Jessica Patach was runner-up for brief writing.

The 2019 moot court competition was sponsored by McGrath North Mullin & Kratz, PC LLO, and the contest also was supported by first year law students who served as bailiffs as well as Creighton Law faculty and staff. 

Ty Medd and Mikaela Witherspoon were this year’s problem directors.

Heavican complemented the students on their hard word. Grasz said the experience was a right of passage that will have a lot of practical value for the students.

“All of the contestants’ knowledge of the record and case law was absolutely outstanding,” Grasz said. “Congratulations.”

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