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Tanya Abrams ’11 and Mark Hatch-Miller ’10 Win Top Prize in Moot Court Finals


The Thurman Arnold Prize Finals of the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals were held Monday afternoon, April 26, in the Yale Law School Auditorium. Watch the video here

The Potter Stewart Prize for best overall written and oral argument went to Tanya Abrams ’11 and Mark Hatch-Miller ’10, who successfully argued for the respondents, Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church, et al., in the case Snyder v. Phelps.

The Thurman Arnold Prize for best oralist went to Zach Jones ’11, who, along with Travis Crum ’11, argued for the petitioner, Albert Snyder. The judges saluted the outstanding oral performances of all four students. Alexander Schwab ’11 and William Perdue ’11 were also honored with the Benjamin N. Cardozo Prize for the best briefs in the preliminary round of the Moot Court competition.

The case, to be argued before the Supreme Court next term, considered whether or not the First Amendment protects the Westboro Baptist Church, which staged an anti-gay protest outside the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq, from a variety of civil claims, including intrusion into a secluded event, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. Links to the briefs can be found here.

Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Judge Debra A. Livingston of the Second Circuit, and Judge David F. Hamilton of the Seventh Circuit heard the case.

Competition co-chair Robert Heberle ’10 said, “We were extremely impressed by the performance of all four finalists in this semester’s competition. Both teams mastered an extraordinarily complex case in just a few weeks, and their preparation was evident in the final round. We also could not have asked for a more dedicated and thoughtful panel of judges. Their knowledge of the case allowed for a serious and substantive back-and-forth discussion with each of the finalists, and their valuable insights regarding oral argument made the experience even more worthwhile for those in attendance.”

The Morris Tyler Moot Court competition takes place each semester at Yale Law School, culminating in the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize Finals in the fall and the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals in the spring. All second- and third-year law students are eligible to participate.