Opening arguments in the 2004 Region VII National Moot Court Competition will begin Thursday afternoon, kicking off a three-day competition that will pit members of The University of Tennessee Moot Court team against other regional law school teams for the chance to compete at the national championship.
"It's a competition that's modeled after arguments before the United States Supreme Court," said Joseph Cook, Regional Director of the National Moot Court Competition and Williford Gragg Professor of Law at UT. "(The teams) get a problem in August and they each prepare a brief on one side or the other on the problem ... Those are evaluated prior to the competition, which will then be combined with the oral score they receive in oral arguments to determine the winner of each round."
Schools who perform poorly the first time in a round have the opportunity to make up for it, according to John Sobieski, associate dean for Student Academic Affairs, Lindsay Young Professor of Law and faculty advisor for the UT Moot Court team.
"The competition in our region is run on what's called a 'double-elimination bracket,'" Sobieski said. "Basically, all that means is no school is eliminated until they have lost twice."
Teams may have a maximum of three student members, and UT's team is made up of Edward Baker, Jonathan Born and James Robinson of the College of Law.
The competition will consist of seven rounds beginning Thursday afternoon and wrapping up with the championship round on Saturday morning.
"Two teams from the region then qualify for the finals which will be held in New York City in January of next year," Sobieski said.
The Fifty-Fifth Annual National Moot Court Competition is sponsored by the City Bar of New York. There are 14 regions across the nation and the University of Tennessee falls into Region VII, along with Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
The issues presented by the teams involve two separate actual cases that have been consolidated for argument. Arguing as if before the U.S. Supreme Court, teams will address constitutional issues raised in the original cases revolving around the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and the constitutionality of a federal mail fraud statute under which a union vice president was convicted.
The universities competing in the Region VII competition are: the University of Alabama, Cumberland School of Law-Samford University, Lousiana State University, Loyola University-New Orleans, University of Memphis, Southern University, University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt University and The University of Tennessee.
The competition is open to the public. Rounds 1 and 2 will take place on Thursday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. Rounds 3, 4, and 5 on Friday at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Rounds 6 and 7 will take place on Saturday at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Information on specific arguments and times will be posted in the lobby of the Law School.