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Yale Law School Hosts Area High School Students at Inaugural Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition

On Saturday, March 6, 2010, Yale Law School hosted the first annual Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition for New Haven area high school students. Fifteen students from Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School and ten students from New Haven Academy participated in the inaugural competition. Each student argued one side of a fictitious case dealing with the constitutional privacy rights of high school students.

The competition showcased the legal knowledge the high school students gained after a year of participating in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. The Marshall-Brennan Project organizes law students around the country to teach courses on constitutional law at public high schools in their local communities. Last fall, Andres Idarraga ’11 and Zach Jones ’11 started the local chapter, which currently exists at ten other law schools. Sabria McElroy ’10 and Alexander Schwab ’11—two Teach For America alums—helped to develop the curriculum and implement the project. Earlier this year, more law students joined the program as moot court coaches when the curriculum shifted its focus from just teaching students about the law to training students to present oral arguments in front of judges.

Best oralists Chanelle Mobley and Marc Lewis with Moot Court Judges Nwamaka Ejebe ’10, Sabria McElroy ’10, and Robert Heberle ’10

Although the New Haven chapter of the project is still in its infancy, the high levels of high school and law student enthusiasm during the recent moot court competition suggests that the project has already started to achieve some of its goals.

“The competition was a different kind of experience,” said Chanelle Mobely, a junior at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, and one of eight students who qualified for the Marshall-Brennan National Moot Court Competition in Philadelphia in two weeks. “I was never very interested in constitutional law before I did this but now it’s fun for me.”

The competition featured three rounds of arguments before panels of mock judges who challenged the students with legal and factual questions about the case as the students delivered their arguments. The judges—law student volunteers—evaluated the competitors based on the clarity, organization, and presentation of their arguments. The four students with the highest scores at the end of the three rounds—Marc Lewis and Chanelle Mobely of Cooperative Arts and Oscar Osei and Joseph Roy of New Haven Academy—then participated in a championship round in front of a large crowd of classmates, parents, teachers, and law students who gathered to watch. These four finalists will represent New Haven in the national competition, which will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia March 19-21. They will be joined by the next four leading scorers in the competition, Lashay Lawson and Andrew Powers of New Haven Academy and Renee Beamon and Mariah Smart of Cooperative Arts. At the national competition, the students will argue before panels of law professors and state and federal judges.

This year’s moot court coaches were Kathryn Bradley ’12, Joshua Braver ’11, Sophia Brill ’11, Rachel Doud ’12, Forrest Dunbar ’12, Christopher Hollins ’12, Eva Rigamonti ’12, Nicolas Riley ’11, David Simons ’12, Alexander Schwab ’11, and Caroline Van Zile ’12.

Alex Iftimei ’11, Cheryl-Lyn Bentley ’11, Lorraine Van Kirk ’12, Robert Heberle ’10, Nathan Hake ’11, Sarah Aronchick Solow ’10, and Julia Lisztwan ’11 judged the opening rounds of the 2010 moot court competition. The championship round was judged by Nwamaka Ejebe ’10, Robert Heberle, and Sabria McElroy.

For more information on the Marshall-Brennan Project at Yale, please contact Andres Idarraga at andres.idarraga@yale.edu. For more about the national project, visit the project website.