DELAWARE, OHIO – Eight Ohio Wesleyan University students participated in the recent American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s Midwest Regional Tournament, and two have been invited to take part in January’s national championship. The annual tournament allows students to simulate making legal arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This year’s regional competition featured 58 teams from 10 colleges and was held Nov. 18-19 at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. Ohio Wesleyan was represented by four, two-person teams:
- Senior Yavor Danailov of Bulgaria and sophomore Andrew Paik of Worthington, Ohio. They reached the “Sweet 16” round in regional competition have been invited to participate in the national championship tournament Jan. 13-15 at the Chapman University School of Law in Orange County, Calif.
- Seniors Megan Hoffman of Beavercreek, Ohio, and Michael Moran of Winnetka, Ill. Hoffman finished as Ohio Wesleyan’s top orator.
- Seniors Kelsey Morrison of Hudson, Ohio, and Margie Stoner of Loudonville, Ohio.
- Sophomore Erik Poicon of San Jose, Calif., and Junior Kayla Riley of Mount Vernon, Ohio. They reached Round 32 in the regional competition and received an “open bid,” putting them on a waiting list for the national tournament. If teams ahead of them decline invitations, they could be invited to the championship, too.
Coach Michael Esler, Ph.D., professor of politics and government and adviser of Ohio Wesleyan’s Pre-Law Studies Program, said Danailov and Paik were narrowly defeated in the Sweet 16 round by the eventual regional tournament champions.
“The judges stated that it was the closest competition of the tournament,” Esler said, leading to the OWU team’s invitation last week to compete in the national tournament.
“All team members performed at a high level in a very competitive tournament,” said Esler, who was assisted with coaching duties by Brian Jones, a Delaware, Ohio, attorney and 2003 OWU alumnus.
Esler said the regional tournament involved a fictitious legal case with two issues to argue before the mock court, comprised of state and federal judges and lawyers.
“Each student plays the role of an attorney and takes on one of the legal issues,” Esler said. “The student-attorney must master both sides of the argument and must argue both sides at some point in the tournament. Arguments are based on actual precedents decided by the Supreme Court and lower courts. Students base their arguments on the case law that they have studied.”
This year’s case involved an appeal of a man’s conviction for threatening the president. “The man convicted of the crime claimed that the government violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights in that it, respectively, construed too broadly the meaning of a ‘threat’ in the statute that criminalizes threatening the president and, thus, violated his right to free speech, and violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches when it accessed conversations in his chat room without a warrant,” Esler said.
According to the American Collegiate Moot Court Association, the competition is used as an educational tool around the world, including the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United States, moot court experience is required in nearly all Juris Doctorate law school programs.
Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 47 states and 57 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.