For the second year in a row, a two-student team from the UNT's Moot Court Squad won the Texas Tech University School of Law Southwestern Regional Tournament.
Emily Ownby, senior political science major from Plano, and her partner Nathan Gies, a senior political science and philosophy major from Spokane, Wash., won the tournament by defeating a team from Texas A&M University.
The Texas Tech tournament, which attracted 47 teams from nine Texas colleges and universities, was the qualifying tournament for the American Collegiate Moot Court Association 2008 National Tournament, which will be held Jan. 18-19 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. UNT's performance at the Texas Tech tournament resulted in Ownby and Gies and three other teams qualifying for the national tournament. UNT qualified more teams for the tournament than any other Texas college or university.
The Texas Tech tournament is one of several organized each year by the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association, which was founded to advance the legal and analytical skills of undergraduate college students who plan to attend law school.
During a moot court, a simulation of an appellate court's proceedings, teams of two students examine a legal problem and present arguments for both sides of the case to a group of appellate judges. The judges review the students' arguments and ask them questions about the case.
The teams in the Texas Tech tournament argued the fictional case of The United States v. William DeNolf. In the case, DeNolf uses his home to clean, repair and manufacture handguns.
He integrates information about those guns into the home school curriculum of his three children, who are ages 7, 9 and 11. DeNolf was indicted by the Federal Grand Jury for violating provisions of Section 922 (q) of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which outlaws possession of a gun within a school zone. Simulating the process of an appeal by the United States before the Supreme Court, the teams argued whether the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1997 applies to DeNolf and whether it violates the Commerce Clause or the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to Ownby and Gies, other UNT students who qualified for the national tournament based on their performance in the Texas Tech tournament were Lauren Molidor, a senior political science and marketing major from Tyler, and her partner Melissa Lui, a sophomore political science and international studies major from Carrollton; Allie Hallmark, a senior political science major from Midland, and her partner Francisco Gonzalez, senior psychology major from Robstown; and Graham Rainer, junior political science major from Carrollton, and his partner Brittanie Smith, senior political science major from Caddo Mills, Texas.
Hallmark and Gonzalez advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament before losing to a team from Texas A&M University, while Molidor and Lui advanced to the semifinals before being defeated by Ownby and Gies.
A fifth team of UNT students - Jesus Gonzalez, senior international studies and Spanish major from Diboll, Texas, and Shanna Valentine, senior political science and criminal justice major from Beaumont - is expected to receive an at-large bid to the national tournament, based on past performance.
Two UNT students received top 10 speaker awards at the Texas Tech tournament. Gonzalez was named the fifth best speaker out of 93 students, while Rainer was named the seventh best.
Dr. Kimi King, UNT associate professor of political science, Moot Court Squad coach and pre-law advisor, says the American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Tournament has increased the level of competition at the regional level.
"This year's final round was one of the most brutal that I have seen in more than 24 years of either competing or coaching," King says, adding that Brian Quinn, judge for the 7th Court of Appeals of Texas and one of the tournament's judges, "was relentless on the competitors."
"We can be very proud that our competitors held up as well as they did. It reminded the students that even if you are ranked first at a competition, the judges will still pound you into the ground," she says.
The win at the Texas Tech tournament was UNT's fourth win in five years at that particular tournament. The squad will now begin raising money to afford to go to the national tournament.
UNT News Service Press Release
Nancy Kolsti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.