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UW Law Team Wins Top Regional Moot Court Competition

February 21, 2017
group of people holding a plaque
UW’s regional-winning law team, from left to right, is Kristina Mireles, of Newcastle; Ian Smith, from Jackson; Allison Connell and David Demic, both from Sheridan; and Brandon Rosty, of Casper. (UW College of Law Photo)

An all-Cowboy State University of Wyoming College of Law team recently took top honors in the annual Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, one of six regional competitions held nationwide.

The UW team last week competed in the Rocky Mountain Regional round at the University of Denver Sturm School of Law. The team -- composed entirely of Wyoming students -- swept the competition, while also taking home individual honors. Students were judged on oral and written presentations to determine the overall winner. UW students swept the top three awards in the competition.

It is the first time that a UW student-led team has ever won first place in the international competition at the regional level.

UW College of Law students competing in the regional competition were Allison Connell and David Demic, both from Sheridan; Kristina Mireles, Newcastle; Brandon Rosty, Casper; and Ian Smith, Jackson.

They used their knowledge of water law, natural resources and international law to dominate the competition with a perfect 7-0 record against such schools as New York University School of Law, the University of Kansas School of Law and the SJ Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from nearly 90 countries representing more than 550 law schools competing.

The UW team now advances to the White & Case International Rounds in Washington, D.C., in April where team members will compete against other qualifiers from around the world. The weeklong event culminates with the Jessup Cup World Championship Round.

During the regional competition, students were given a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations. Each team prepares both oral and written pleadings (memorials).

The team is scored as a unit, and also with recognition and scoring for individual written and oral efforts.

This year’s issue was framed around two problems: “In a time of drought, may one state tap into a shared underground aquifer even if it deprives another state of water?”; and “Must cultural artifacts taken from state A to state B by an oppressed minority of state A be returned?”

UW College of Law students took top honors in the oral and written presentations.

Demic, a third-year law student, won top individual oralist with two perfect scores. He has competed in the Jessup competition all three years of his UW law school career, placing ninth best oralist as a first-year law student, and he was named sixth best oralist last year.

Mireles was this year’s runner-up in the oral portion of the competition, while Rosty was third and Connell seventh.

According to the International Law Student Association organizers, it is the first time that the top three oralists came from the same school.

“One of the reasons that I came to UW was because of the strong international program,” Demic says. “The tutelage I have received from UW College of Law professors Suzie Pritchett, Jason Robison and Noah Novogrodsky has provided me with the skills that I have now, and I would not have been able to succeed without their guidance.”

Demic took the experience from the last two years and improved to help lead his team to victory.

“It felt really good to practice and apply everything we have learned at the College of Law and come back with vengeance in the competition,” he adds.

In the written portion, the UW Memorials Brief team placed first, helping the UW team claim an unprecedented clean sweep of the two major categories. The College of Law had previously taken home the honor of Best Memorial in 2014.

“We are extremely proud of this team of students from the University of Wyoming,” says Novogrodsky, the team’s faculty adviser. “They were more prepared than any other team there, and it showed.”

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