SU College of Law team wins National Tax Moot Court Competition, and National Trial Competition team qualifies for championship
SU College of Law team wins National Tax Moot Court Competition, and National Trial Competition team qualifies for championshipFebruary 16, 2001Nicci Brownnicbrown@syr.edu
Three Syracuse University law students recently proved their affinity with the nation’s tax laws. Rebecca Secco, Christopher Jahnke and David Reed beat 15 other teams from around the country to win the National Tax Moot Court Competition in St. Petersburg, Fla., Feb. 8-10. It’s the first time an SU team has won the event–sponsored by the Tax Section of the Florida Bar Association–and marks the culmination of months of work. SU law professor Martin Fried says team members were recruited at the beginning of the academic year based on their performance in tryouts. The teams were then required to prepare an appellate brief relating to a fictional tax problem developed by this year’s competition organizers. Faculty members were not permitted to help with the briefs, which had to be submitted by early January. After qualifying, teams had about three weeks to get ready for the Florida-based oral argument portion of the competition. That meant being prepared to argue both sides of the issues. Fried says the students also had to be able to answer unexpected questions from the judges. “You can’t be so wedded to an argument, that when a question comes from the bench you get flustered and can’t answer, or, even worse, are not able to get back into the flow of what you want to tell the court,” Fried says. The College of Law is well known for its advocacy programs, Fried says, and previous teams have finished second and third in the Florida event. But he says this year’s team had the added advantage of bonding extremely well: “Once the students won their third argument, they were convinced they could go all the way.” Aside from the prestige of winning a national competition, the college and the winning students also receive plaques. The College of Law is also on track for another national award. On the same weekend as the Florida event, an SU team qualified for the final rounds of the National Trial Competition as one of the top two teams at the regional trials. The event was held at SUNY Buffalo and attracted participants from law schools throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. SU had two three-member teams in the compeition. The “A” team (Mary Beth DePasquale, Jean-Marie Westlake and Todd Gleason) was undefeated after four rounds, but lost in the semifinals to a team from the SUNY Buffalo School of Law. DePasquale also received the event’s “Best Opening Statement” award based on her openings in the first three rounds of the competition.
SU’s “B” team (Patrique Campbell, Patrick Kennell and Amy Rameau) won its semifinal against Fordham. The SUNY Buffalo and SU teams now move on to the national competition in Texas starting March 21. SU goes into the event with a strong history, having previously won the national competition twice, as well as finishing second and third on several occasions.