Fordham Law School reached the finals in the regional rounds of the National Moot Court Competition, the country’s premier moot court event, on Nov. 16 at the New York City Bar Association.
The 3L team consisting of Samuel Ballard, Aviva Kushner, and Anna Wittman will return to the NYC Bar Association in January for the national rounds. At regionals, Ballard received the Best Speaker award and Kushner earned Runner-Up Best Speaker honors.
Professor Maria L. Marcus, the team’s faculty coach, observed that the team members were constantly building on their natural talents by seeking out ways to improve still more.
“They answered all the judges’ questions with intelligence and verve, and demonstrated star power at every stage,” said Marcus, moderator for the Law School’s interschool moot court teams and the Joseph M. McLaughlin Professor of Law Emeritus. “They were also expertly guided by the editor-in-chief of the Moot Court Board, Emilia Brunello ’18.”
Fordham won each of the five oral rounds in which it competed in regionals. It finished second overall to New York Law School, based on the score of briefs turned in before the competition.
Kushner and Wittman deserved much of the credit for the team’s success, Ballard said, noting they displayed great skill in breaking down a very technical issue into an understandable one for judges and others hearing it for the first time. This matter involved procedures governing First Amendment rights in retaliatory arrest suits under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. Kushner argued the case from the petitioner’s side and Wittman argued from the respondent’s side.
Ballard, meanwhile, argued both sides of the second issue in the case, which asked whether the driver of a rental car who booked and paid for the rental, but was contractually unauthorized to drive the car, had standing to sue over an unconstitutional vehicle search.
“We had achieved our biggest goal going into that final round, which was going to nationals in January,” Ballard said. “We were so excited to have accomplished that, and to also win the Best Speaker award was the cherry on top.”
Ballard also thanked Moot Court members, as well as family and friends, who attended the two-day competition for providing him and his fellow participants support and a “comforting presence.”