JUDGE: Milam County Moot Court a big success
We just completed our fourth Milam County Moot Court competition. Milam County is the only county in Texas that produces and sponsors such an event.
Moot Court requires each participant to make an oral argument regarding the legal issues of a fictitious case to a panel of three judges. Each judge scores the participants on several issues, such as their opening statement, knowledge of the involved legal issues, responsiveness to questions posed by the Court, ability to handle adverse material, non-verbal presence and closing. Teams consists of two students and each team must argue at least twice, presenting both sides of the case, with few notes.
This year’s case was complicated and involved the issue of free speech in public schools. Specifically, the case raised the issue of whether students have a right of free speech in public schools and if so, should the school have the right to limit free speech. In our hypothetical case, the students were required to represent both a high school that had restricted the speech of a cheerleader and the cheerleader as well.
The cheerleader had been removed from her position because of a Facebook post claiming that she had not been reselected as a cheerleader because of a prior post complaining of the school’s cell phone policy. During the rounds, both sides had 14 minutes to argue their side of the case and both teams were critiqued by the judges thereafter. Each of the five public high schools in the County participated. In fact, there were almost 40 students involved in the competition.
The judges included Bell County Judge Blackburn, Temple College Vice Presidents Evelyn Waiwaiole and Dede Griffin, Jim Reed, Executive Director of the Central Texas Council of Government, Michelle Morgan, Justice of the Peace Isaacs and Northcott, District Judge John Youngblood, Assistant DA Brian Price and Randy Dale, attorney’s Matt Humble, Craig Brown, Rick Dodd, Bernard Johnson, Sharon Diaz, Jess Hart, David Morrison and Hollis Lewis. Each judge had been briefed beforehand with the problem and the legal issues involved. Each quizzed the students regarding the important issues in the case, which forced them to think on their feet.
The Milano team consisting of Laynie Rose and Rayelee Keen won first place; the Thorndale team consisting of Alyssa Pachl and Ryan Beardsley won second place; the Cameron team consisting of Tessa Vaculin and Mackinzie Mahan won third place and the Rockdale team consisting of Bridgett Grady and Madalynne Brinkman placed fourth. Each member of the winning Milano team will receive a $1,000 scholarship to Temple college. In addition, the team will receive a $1,500 scholarship, provided by our sponsors. The second place team will receive a $750 scholarship, the third place team gets a $300 scholarship and the fourth place team gets $250. In addition, the Central Texas Council of Government, (per Executive Director Jim Reed) has offered a paid summer internship to a member of the top twelve teams. The COG will accept applications and then award the scholarship later this year.
We thank our sponsors; Classic Bank, Temple College, Rockdale Rotary Club, Zochnet, Jenny Gebhart, James Walker, Kenneth Rhoades, Sharon Diaz & Matthew Wright of Diaz and Wright and Brian and Dawn Morton. We also thank Michelle Morgan for organizing the event, our official scorekeeper, Dr. Curtis Chubb and our bailiffs, Kim Stewart and Bonnie Acosta. Finally, we thank Brett Eberhart of KMIL for broadcasting the final round. Most importantly we thank the students who worked so hard to prepare for the competition. Each did an outstanding job and each is better prepared to be a Milam County leader of tomorrow, because of Moot Court.