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SUNY Buffalo Law wins moot court competition

The winning team, from left, are Kevin Espinosa ’09, Stephanie Forman (2L), Henry Zomerfeld (3L), Jessica Noto (3L), Andrew Dean (3L), John Land (3L) and Michael Hecker ’09. Courtesy SUNY Buffalo Law

The winning team, from left, are Kevin Espinosa ’09, Stephanie Forman (2L), Henry Zomerfeld (3L), Jessica Noto (3L), Andrew Dean (3L), John Land (3L) and Michael Hecker ’09. Courtesy SUNY Buffalo Law

By winning the Midwest Super Regional Round of the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, SUNY Buffalo Law School has advanced to the International Round of the global competition, to be held April 6 through 12 in Washington, D.C.

The regional competition was held Feb. 20 to 23 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, where the undefeated champion SUNY-Buffalo team finished ahead of 20 other law schools, winning every one of the preliminary and run-off rounds. One team member, John Land (3L), also won “Best Oralist” in the Chicago competition’s final round.

The Jessup Competition is focused on international appellate advocacy in front of the International Court of Justice and is the world’s largest moot court contest. Hundreds of schools from around the world compete each year, but only 12 law schools from the United States (the top two teams from each domestic super regional round) advance to the International Round. There they will battle for the Jessup World Cup against approximately 120 law schools from around the globe.

“The Jessup Cup is among the most prestigious and competitive moot courts in the world,” said George Kannar, law professor, who oversees Buffalo’s moot court programs.

This year’s Jessup Problem concerns the conflict between maritime development and environmental conservation, criminal jurisdiction and maritime salvage rights for underwater cultural heritage.

Other members of the 2013-2014 SUNY Buffalo Law School Jessup team are Andrew Dean (3L), Stephanie Forman (2L), Jessica Noto (3L), and Henry Zomerfeld (3L). Noto and Zomerfeld served as advocates on behalf of the applicant, while Dean and Land advocated on behalf of the respondent. Forman served as “of counsel” to both teams, assisting in each oral argument round. All five team members researched and drafted the memorials (briefs) for the competition.

Alumni Kevin Espinosa (’09), vice president and counsel at M&T Bank, and Michael Hecker (’09), an associate in the Environment and Energy Practice Group of Hodgson Russ LLP, served as the team’s coaches. Espinosa and Hecker are also adjunct professors at the law school, teaching a skills-oriented course in “International Legal Advocacy.”

At the Midwest Super Regional Round, the SUNY Buffalo Law School team won all four of its preliminary round matches — against DePaul University College of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Saint Louis University School of Law and Syracuse University College of Law. It advanced to the quarterfinals as the competition’s top seed. Of the 81 individuals who argued in the preliminary rounds, SUNY Buffalo students won two of the 10 available “best oralist” awards, with Dean placing sixth and Zomerfeld winning ninth. SUNY Buffalo also won “Second Overall” for its written submissions.

To represent the law school in the Jessup Competition, students must take part in an intramural selection process in the spring prior to the competition, submitting a writing sample and delivering a mock oral argument. This year’s Jessup Cup team prepared with the assistance of members of the faculty, alumni and previous SUNY Buffalo Jessup Cup teams.



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