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AU Washington College of Law Wins 2023 D.C. Cup Moot Court Competition

February 27, 2023

By Jeremy Conrad

Left to right: D.C. Solicitor General Caroline Van Zile, Patrick Riley, Judge Loren AliKhan, George Marquette, and D.C. Bar President Ellen Jakovic.
Left to right: D.C. Solicitor General Caroline Van Zile, Patrick Crowley, Judge Loren AliKhan, Brooks Marquette, and D.C. Bar President Ellen Jakovic.

On February 24 American University (AU) Washington College of Law’s Brooks Marquette and Patrick Crowley prevailed over four other law school teams to win the 2023 D.C. Cup Moot Court Competition. Stephanie King and Danielle Barnes-Smith of George Washington University (GW) Law School took home the Best Brief Award, with King also winning the Best Oralist Award.

The competition, organized by the D.C. Bar Communities, consisted of three rounds of arguments held over the course of two days in person at the D.C. Bar and at the D.C. Court of Appeals. Volunteer judges assessed the oral advocacy and brief-writing skills of competitors, providing feedback on both substance and presentation.

The teams from GW Law and AU Washington College of Law faced off in the final round, arguing their case before D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Loren L. AliKhan, D.C. Solicitor General Caroline Van Zile, and D.C. Bar President Ellen Jakovic.

Judge AliKhan praised the high quality of both teams’ efforts in an extremely close competition among finalists. “I wish I had the four of you in front of me every day,” she said, encouraging the students to consider pursuing a career in appellate practice. She added that there was little distinction between their performance in the moot court and what she sees from professionals in the courtroom. “I’d say this is in the top 10 percent, including the lawyers [who] practice before me,” she said.

Marquette and Crowley, currently 2Ls focusing on food and drug law, said that they are uncertain about their future area of practice, but agreed that their success in the competition might pique their interest in appellate advocacy. Both praised their colleagues and competition. “Victory is only as good as your teammates,” Marquette said. “Victory is also only as good as your competition, and they were fantastic.”

Other members of the AU team attended the final arguments and celebrated their teammates’ victory. The group has won a number of moot court events this year and will travel to competitions in Las Vegas and San Diego later in 2023.

Meanwhile, King expressed gratitude for the “wonderful experience to compete against other D.C. [law] schools and connect with D.C. lawyers.” Teams from Howard University School of Law, the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, and Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law also took part in the competition.

This year’s hypothetical, US v. Gold, implicated a host of search and seizure issues relating to the Fourth Amendment. Loosely based on a D.C. case in which police responded to a noise complaint only to discover squatters had established an impromptu strip club in a vacant property, the hypothetical in the moot court competition was even more complex, with arguments pertaining to verbal agreements, forbidden subleases, and searches of property in parking spaces and detached garages.

D.C. Bar Communities Director Pamela Robinson expressed admiration for the skill displayed by all the teams in the competition. “What a delight to witness such a talented group of future attorneys,” she said. Echoing the comments by the judges regarding the close contest, Robinson said the two teams “were so closely matched, it was like watching two prizefighters duking it out.”

Robinson also acknowledged the efforts of the competition chair, O’Hagan Meyer partner Les Machado, and those of the other committee members, team advisors, and the 13 volunteer judges who organized the event, developed the fact pattern, interpreted the rules of the competition, coached the teams, and evaluated their performance in both writing and advocacy.

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