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St. Thomas Law Hosts The 2014 Susan Ferrell International Moot Court Competition:  A Stellar Intellectual Experience


The Susan J. Ferrell Intercultural Human Rights Moot Court Competition, organized at St. Thomas Law this past weekend, was a most memorable intellectual and intercultural event.  Based on a most complex problem at the cutting edge of law and electronic technology, drafted by some of our ablest law students –  Amber Bounelis, Zachary Smith and Cathleen Ward, this competition allowed students from all over the world the creation and skillful presentation of adversarial arguments before a hypothetical International Court of Justice.

Enthusiastic teams from India and Italy met with experienced teams from the United States, including Duke, Howard, FIU and Valparaiso – all with a passion for the problem of cyber-war, privacy, human trafficking and indigenous rights that they had contemplated since its publication in September 2013.  The best memorial was written by the team from Hidayatullah National Law Center in central India, winning with a fraction of a point over the team from Christ University in the southern city of Bangalore.  Alexandra Audate, Talle Gilmore and Professor Sylvia Ospina did an outstanding job in reviewing and scoring the memorials.  Oral argument was presented in four rounds on Saturday, February 1.  Excellent knowledge of international law was presented; we also saw quite diverse mooting styles. The best oralist was Devon Cox from Howard Law School, followed by Ryan Deutmyer (Valparaiso), Kelly Moras (FIU), Arjun Chandran (Duke), and Dana Simon (FIU).  

This event constituted a veritable homecoming for many former international law students – those who performed in the Jessup Competition, such as Professor Peter Barone (as far back as 1991!), A. Dax Bello, Senen Garcia, Talle Gilmore, Jennifer Gordon, and Stephanie Villacencio, as well as those who earned an LL.M. and/or J.S.D. degree in Intercultural Human Rights – Dr. Olugbenga Ademodi, Alexandra Audate, Danielle Boaz, Nadine Gedeon, Professor Mark Kielsgard, Frank Minton, Kseniya Smychkouskaya, Edward Tapanes, Ana Vallejo, and Jasna Vujin.  Special thanks are due our dedicated faculty judges -- Professors Howard Blumberg, Jessica Fonseca-Nader, Lauren Gilbert, John Kang, Marvin Klein, Gary Kravitz, Bob Mensel, Kenneth Noto, Sylvia Ospina, Jay Silver, and Susan Warheit -- who sacrificed their Saturday and more for this important school event.  Our deep appreciation also goes to Dean Cece Dykas who, on behalf of the Law School, extended a warm welcome to all participants and congratulated them on their achievements at the Awards Banquet on Saturday evening.



The final round on Sunday, February 2, pitted Hidayatullah National Law Center against Howard Law School before a hot bench consisting of The Honorable Fausto Pocar, former President, and present Appeals Court Judge, of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Professor Ira Nathenson (who is also due a debt of gratitude for his expert advice to the problem drafting team on issues of cybertechnology and the law), and Denise Wallace, LL.M. and J.S.D. Candidate in Intercultural Human Rights.  It was a fascinating exchange.  Coached by Professor Waris Husain, a former Ferrell competitor, Howard Law School won the Ferrell Trophy.  The DVD of this final round is available in the St. Thomas Law Library.

Participants were most impressed this year with the complexity and integration of cutting-edge technology, including social media and computer virus aggression, into a problem that exceeded, in their minds, the challenges faced in other international law moot court competitions.  Kudos to our students on the drafting team who wrote both the problem and the bench brief, as well as to the organizing team under the direction of Competition Coordinator Shaun Quinn, the student bailiffs and team liaisons involved, who made this event a resounding success.

Submitted by: 
Professor Siegfried Wiessner and Professor Roza Pati (Faculty Coordinator), on behalf of Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights and the Ferrell Team.