Advocates’ Prize is the College of Law’s annual intramural appellate advocacy competition. The competition posits a hypothetical case before the Supreme Court of the United States. The competitors are required to prepare a brief and present an oral argument before a panel of judges. Competitors are judged on the quality of the oral argument and the quality of their brief.
This year, the Moot Court Board has the honor of having United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan presiding over the final round. This is the second Supreme Court Justice to preside over the competition. In 2010, Justice Clarence Thomas presided over the final round.
Justice Kagan was nominated in 2009 by President Obama to serve as the Solicitor General of the United States. In 2010, Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court. She took her seat on Aug. 7, 2010. Five federal appeals court judges will join Justice Kagan to judge the final round of the competition. The five judges include: Judge Rosemary Barkett, Judge Marsha Siegel Berzon, Judge Jerome A. Holmes, Judge Adalberto Josè Jordan and Judge James A. Wynn.
Judge Barkett was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Barkett is the recipient of seven honorary degrees.
Judge Berzon was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1999 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Berzon clerked for the Justice William Brennan of the United States Supreme Court as his first female law clerk.
Judge Holmes was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2006 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Holmes became the first African American to serve on the Tenth Circuit.
Judge Jordan was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2012 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Jordan clerked for Sandra Day O’Connor on the United States Supreme Court in 1988.
Judge Wynn was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Wynn served as a captain for the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps at the Norfolk Naval Base.
More information about the United States Courts of Appeals judges can be found on their respective courts’ websites.
This year’s competition has attracted 23 teams of second- and third-year law students. The hypothetical case, United States of America v. Lucas, poses issues related to Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause and right to counsel issues. Each team participated in a brief writing workshop and an appellate argument boot camp in addition to filing an appellate brief on behalf of one of the parties.
This year’s preliminary rounds are scheduled for the evenings of Monday, Oct. 15, and Tuesday, Oct. 16. The two top-scoring teams will compete in a final round before Justice Elena Kagan and five federal appeals court judges on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 132 of the College of Law.