By Brendan Horgan
The Moot Court Board’s 2011 William H. Hastie Appellate Advocacy Tournament successfully concluded earlier this month. The Board’s own Mike Lobie and Emily Bolton worked tirelessly creating the problem, coordinating schedules, and setting up the judging. Everything went incredibly well, and the final argument and dinner were both great successes.
In a well argued final, the Respondent Claire Howard for emerged victorious over Petitioner Gregory Bennici. The competitors argued in front of Connecticut Superior Court (and soon to be Appellate Court) Judge Sheldon, Connecticut Appellate Judges Lavine and Espinosa, and Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Eveleigh. Navigating questions from the bench, Howard and Bennici maintained their composure in front of the large crowd. In the end, after deliberation by the panel, Howard carried the day for the Respondent.
The problem and research universe took the competitors into the world of copyright. Appearing before the United States Supreme Court on certiorari from the 10th Circuit, the case of Golan v. Holder et al., asked the court to determine two questions. First, whether the removing of works from the public domain violates the Progress clause of the Constitution. Second, whether adherence to the terms of a foreign treaty violate the First Amendment by applying copyright protection to certain foreign works previously in the public domain. The problem was incredibly difficult. Competitors had a little less than two weeks to sift through hundreds of pages of case law and master an incredibly nuanced area of the law.
In a very competitive field, Howard and Bennici rose to the finals for their ability to coherently corral the law. In an appellate arguments, the advocates take the role of educating the judges on complex areas of law. Howard and Bennici both had an uncanny ability to take a very difficult concept, and communicate it in an understandable manner. This year’s Hastie problem demanded taking the very complex, and explaining it in a way that made sense.
The other big winners included Best Oralist Kaelah Smith and Best Brief Lauren Crudele. The night concluded with the invitations to join the Moot Court Board also being extended to Shrina Faldu and Alicia Esposito.