Tonight, at 7:00 p.m. in Baxter Hall 114, David Timmerman and Rick Pitts will introduce the 2007 Wabash College Moot Court problem.
The Wabash College Moot Court competition, now in its 14th year, is a unique experience, one that is rarely available to undergraduates, and offers Wabash students an excellent opportunity to engage in legal argumentation with training and support from Wabash alumni who are now practicing attorneys.
At the center of the program is Rhetoric Professor David Timmerman who organizes the campus portion of the event and works closely with alums Matt Griffith, Scott Himsel, Rick Pitts, and others in connecting students and alumni in this exciting and intense competition. The primary competition will take place Saturday October 20th as 25 to 30 Wabash students will gather to present their cases to judging panels featuring alumni and faculty. Several students will advance to the semi-finals before the top four advocates will be selected to participate in the finals round, which will be in Salter Hall on Tuesday October 23rd at 7:30 p.m. Past finals round judging panels have included several Indiana Supreme Court Justices and many Indiana Court of Appeals Justices, as well as featuring one sitting judge who is a Wabash alumnus and one Wabash faculty member each year.
The success of the program can be seen in many ways, including the dedication that students exhibit to the competition, preparing despite not receiving any course credit. Similarly, the program is an excellent way for Wabash students to meet alumni who are working in various sectors of the legal profession. The success of the program is also illustrated by the many competitors who have gone on to have amazingly successful Moot Court careers in law school. For instance, Chris Miltenberger ’03 won the Wake Forest Law School Moot Court competition for first year students, a competition featuring more than 150 participants, and went on to represent his school in national competitions. Similarly, R. Scott Medsker ’03 led his Moot Court team at Catholic University to a second place team finish in a national competition. And Adam Christenson ’03 won the Indiana University-Bloomington Moot Court competition.
In preparation for the Wabash competition, students are given materials and coaching necessary for arguing a hypothetical case before a panel of judges. Competition comes from fellow students who are assigned the opposing argument. No prior legal knowledge is necessary, and outside research, while possible, is not emphasized. Rather, the emphasis is placed on the skills of oral argument, that is thinking on one’s feet, responding to challenging questions, and clarity in oral speech.
This year’s problem, again authored by Rick Pitts’ 83, involves the issue of voter identification laws (an issue that, just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up). In the problem, a fictional state has a requirement of a photo identification, such as a driver’s license, to vote. The plaintiffs contend that it is an unfair and unconstitutional requirement, having the practical effect of disenfranchising the poor, minorities and the elderly in violation of various constitutional protections, including the Fourteenth
Amendment’s “Equal Protection Clause.” In response, the fictional state’s governor and election commissioner have defended the statute by arguing that the statute is merely a law to regulate the conduct of an election and meets all constitutional requirements.
If you are interested in participating in or judging at this year’s competition, or would like to hear more about the program, contact David Timmerman (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.