Dougherty and Dennis D’Angelo,
2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge
Guido Calabresi, Chief Justice of the
United States John G. Roberts Jr., 2nd
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia
Sotomayor, and petitioners Jason Gould
and Peter Farrell.
By Laura Ewald
All photos by Abdul El-Tayef/WPPI
For more than 50 years,
the final round of the Van Vleck Constitutional
Law Moot Court Competition has been a highlight
of the GW Law experience. This year was especially
memorable, as the competition was judged by Chief
Justice of the United States John G. Roberts
Jr. and by 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Judges Guido Calabresi and Sonia Sotomayor. Held
Feb. 9 in Lisner Auditorium, the event was attended
by nearly 1,500 students, alumni, and faculty
members—the largest audience at any GW
Law competition to date.
The fictitious case argued, U.S.
v. Richard Stevens, focused on three First Amendment issues
that raised novel
applications of traditional free speech theories.
Arguing for the petitioner were 3Ls Peter Farrell
and Jason Gould. The respondent was represented
by 3Ls Dennis D’Angelo and Chris Dougherty.
The problem was written by 3L David Belczyk,
who was assisted by 3L V. David Zvenyach. Professors
Thomas Colby and Chip Lupu supervised the project.
Each team had 30 minutes to present arguments,
with each participant speaking for 15 minutes.
“It was an honor to argue in front of judges
the caliber of Chief Justice Roberts and Judges
Calabresi and Sotomayor,” Gould says. “Their
intellect is matched only by their personal kindness—each
of them took time to speak with us before and
after the competition. I was thrilled I had the
chance to speak to them after the event to receive
feedback on what I did well and what I could
Dean Frederick M. Lawrence and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
In his opening remarks, Dean Frederick M. Lawrence
praised the participants for their hard work
during the long road to the finals. The competition
began in September, with quarter- and semifinals
in November. Gould said all the finalists were “mooted” by
faculty members and friends to help them prepare
for the finals.
Van Vleck faculty adviser Professor Amanda Tyler
said the finalists faced a “hot bench,” noting
how the judges fired fast-paced, tough questions
at the competitors and continually challenged
Each year, the Jacob Burns Award is presented
during commencement weekend to the two members
of the winning Van Vleck team. The award was
established by Jacob Burns, LLB ’24, Hon.
LLD ’70, a former trustee, and is considered
one of the Law School’s highest honors.
While all four participants showed remarkable
poise and skill in their arguments, Farrell and
Gould won the competition. Gould also won Best
Oralist and Best Brief.
Chief Justice of the
United States John G. Roberts Jr., center,
and 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judges
Guido Calabresi and Sonia Sotomayor hear
arguments in the finals of the Van Vleck
Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition.
Held in Lisner Auditorium, this year’s
event drew a crowd of nearly 1,500, the
largest audience to ever attend a GW Law
As the judges deliberated, Lawrence and GW President
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg recognized the many
GW Law students who brought home competition
awards in 2005 and 2006 (see sidebar). The ceremony
underscored GW Law’s presence in national
and international competitions.
the teams on the outstanding quality of their
briefs and arguments and complimented GW’s
moot court organization. Sotomayor added that
she was “heartened” by
the “love and respect for the profession” demonstrated
by GW Law.
The Van Vleck competition has a longstanding
tradition of attracting high-profile judges.
Supreme Court Justices Tom Clark, Byron White,
Potter Stewart, John M. Harlan, William J. Brennan,
and William Rehnquist (as assistant attorney
general) have judged the competition. Next year,
Justice Samuel Alito will preside, continuing
the momentum of one of GW Law’s premier
Each of the visiting
judges took time to talk with students
and members of the GW Law community
before and after the event. Here, Roberts
attends a post-competition reception
in the Marvin Center. Lindsay Hedrick,
Moot Court Board president, likened
the excitement level of the crowd to “a
“This competition underscores every strength
that GW Law has to offer. We have a fantastic
student body, one that can impress the greatest
legal minds of our generation. We have a terrific
faculty that has the knowledge and connections
to put together an event like this year in and
year out,” says David Johnson, assistant
dean for student affairs. “We are located
in Washington, where our nation’s leaders
can easily visit. Lastly, we are on a wonderful
main campus where our students and faculty can
take advantage of facilities such as Lisner Auditorium.
Simply put, GW is where the law happens.”
GW Law Oral Advocacy
Many students excelled while representing
themselves and GW Law at regional, national,
and international oral advocacy competitions
this academic year.
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and
Dean Frederick M. Lawrence
congratulate Manfred Lachs
Space Law Moot Court Competition
champions Olivia Hussey, JD ’05,
and Kristie Blase, JD ’06,
during a special ceremony honoring
GW Law oral advocacy successes
during the Van Vleck Moot Court
Competition in February.
Olivia Hussey, JD ’05, and Kristie
Blase, JD ’06, won the world championship
of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court
Competition in Fukuoka, Japan, defeating
Cambridge in the semifinal and Singapore
in the final. They argued before three
sitting International Court of Justice
judges in the finals. In the spring of
2005, they won Best Team at the North
American Space Law Moot Court Competition
and were invited by NASA to compete at
the world championship.
Sean Krispinsky, JD ’06, and Sarah
Bannister, JD ’06, won the 2006
National Native American Law Students
Association Moot Court Competition in
Seattle and won Best Brief. Krispinsky
was named second best oral advocate.
Traditionally, the Best Brief from this
competition is published in the fall
edition of American
Indian Law Review.
Adrian Esguerra, JD ’06, and Mayur
Saxena, JD ’06, won the Thurgood
Marshall Moot Court Competition in Washington
at the Court of Appeals for the Armed
Services this spring. Second-year students
Jamie Long and Laura Kelly were the second
place team. Esguerra was awarded top
the final round, and Long was named second
for the first round.
V. David Zvenyach, JD ’06, and
Phillip Warrick, JD ’06, won the
regional round of the New York City Bar
Moot Court Competition in Baltimore in
2005. In addition to besting the University
of Pennsylvania in the finals, Zvenyach
was awarded Best Oral Advocate in the
final round and the overall competition.
Their brief was ranked second overall.
Zvenyach and Warrick competed in the
56th Annual National Moot Court Competition
sponsored by the New York City Bar Association
and the American College of Trial Lawyers
in New York in January and February.
Twenty-eight law schools competed from
a field of 184. Zvenyach and Warrick
advanced to the quarterfinals and were
awarded The Edwin L. Weisl Jr. Bowl for
the second best brief of the national
Spencer Davis, JD ’06, Mazna Hussain,
JD ’06, Jaclyn West, JD ’06,
and Michael Winn, JD ’06, won the
Mid-Atlantic Regional Jessup International
Law Moot Court Competition. In addition
to being named the best overall advocates,
they were awarded Best Brief. The team
advanced to the International Jessup
Competition where they competed against
teams from around the world and finished
40th out of a field of 115. Their brief
finished 13th. The Jessup International
Law Competition is the largest moot court
competition in the world.
Jasmine Blackmeir, JD ’06, and
Jason Stone, JD ’06, won the fall
2005 Regional Negotiations Competition
hosted by Washington & Lee in Lexington,
Va. They advanced to the nationals in
Chicago in the spring where they finished
eighth in a field of 26.