Law Teams Earn National Competition Berths

Texas Tech School of Law moot court teams advance to national finals after winning regional rounds.

(left to right) Rickie Cayton, Robert Sherwin (head coach), Vanessa Burgess, Julie Goen, Natalie Roetzel, Brandon Durrett, Sally Pittman, Matthew Luensmann.

(L-R)  Rickie Cayton, Robert Sherwin, Vanessa Burgess, Julie Goen, Natalie Roetzel, Brandon Durrett, Sally Pittman, Matthew Luensmann. Click to Enlarge.

For the first time since 2000, both Texas Tech University School of Law moot court teams have won regional rounds of the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition, earning them bids to Chicago for the national finals in April. Rob Sherwin, director of Advocacy Programs and coach of the teams, said the regional rounds, which took place March 12-14, attracted some of the top appellate advocacy talent in the country. “Neither of our teams lost a round the entire weekend,” Sherwin said. “It was a dominating performance by Texas Tech law.” The third-year-law trio of Vanessa Burgess, of Washington, D.C.; Julie Goen, of Seminole; and Sally Pittman (brief writer), of Spearman, defeated Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Cornell University, Barry University (twice) and the John Marshall Law School in Chicago en route to its championship. Their classmates – Rickie Cayton, of Killeen; Matthew Luensmann, of Saint Hedwig; and Brandon Durrett (brief writer) of Lubbock – all third-year law students – beat the University of Georgia, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Brigham Young University, University of Houston and Florida Coastal University to claim their trophy. Individually, Durrett’s brief placed third overall.  Luensmann won the fourth-best oralist award, while Cayton won eighth. Sherwin said the problem for this year’s competition was incredibly complex, dealing with the issues of war powers and whether congressmen have the ability to sue the president. “The component of national security law provided us with a distinct advantage over other law schools that don’t have the military law faculty that we do,” Sherwin said. “I’m convinced that had it not been for the help of our amazing faculty, these two wins would not have been possible.” The competition started with 187 teams, the largest moot court competition ever.  The national finals will play host to the four champions from each of the six regional competitions, for a total of 24 teams.  Texas Tech and University of California, Hastings were the only two schools to qualify both of their squads for the national finals.
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