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Pre-Part Information for 1Ls

The pre-part program is the 1L version of the Morris Tyler Moot Court competition.  It is a low-stress, non-competitive opportunity to improve one’s brief-writing and oral argument skills by drafting a brief and participating in oral arguments.  Participants are paired with one or more advisors from the Moot Court Board of Directors and receive substantive feedback from their advisors. In addition, participants are invited to attend workshops led by faculty members, practitioners, judges, and/or moot court board members.  1Ls who are interested in competing in the Morris Tyler competition are strongly encouraged to participate in the program.

Guidelines for the pre-part program are contained in the Pre-Part Manual


The Spring 2012 pre-part case is Reichle v. Howards (11-262)

Opinion below: Howards v. McLaughlin, 634 F.3d 1131 (10th Cir. 2011).

The Secret Service arrested Steven Howards after they overheard him make an anti-war remark and later saw him make physical contact with Vice President Cheney at an event at the Beaver Creek Mall in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Howards alleged that the arrest was invalid because it was in retaliation for his exercise of his First Amendment rights; the police argued that they had probable cause to arrest, which defeated any possible retaliation claim.

Howards brought a Bivens action against the Secret Service agents. The agents moved for summary judgment, arguing that qualified immunity shielded them from the present suit. Following a hearing, the district court denied the motion for qualified immunity. Upon an interlocutory appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied qualified immunity to the agents because the law was clear that law enforcement officers may not arrest an individual who has exercised First Amendment rights, and held that Mr. Howards was permitted to proceed with his retaliatory arrest claim “notwithstanding [the fact that] probable cause existed for his arrest.”

The question presented is: Does the existence of probable cause to make an arrest bar a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim?