First Amendment Moot Court Team Advances to Semifinals

On February 19, 2010, Loyola College of Law's Moot Court team reached the semifinals in the 20th Annual First Amendment Moot Court Competition hosted by Vanderbilt University School of Law and the First Amendment Center. The competition hosted 36 teams representing law schools from across the nation including Georgetown, Duke, Brooklyn, and San Diego School of Law. The team, comprised of second year law students, Desmonde Bennett, Evan Bergeron, and coached by third year student, Nicole Stillwell, competed in eight rounds over two days. The team reached the final four, being eliminated by the team from San Diego School of Law, who won in the final round. Throughout the competition, the Loyola team received praise for their unique and persuasive arguments.   This year’s First Amendment Moot Court Competition problem examined one of the most pressing issues in modern First Amendment jurisprudence — the phenomenon of free-speech zones. The problem forced competitors to grapple with a city’s "protest policy” that created a free speech zone at a health-care town hall meeting. The student-competitors addressed not only the zoning of speech and governmental motivation, but also the core free-speech principles of viewpoint discrimination and secondary effects. Semi-final and final-round judges in the competition included members of the federal judiciary, Steven M. Colloton, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; Martha Craig Daughtrey, Julia Smith Gibbons, and Gilbert S. Merritt, Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Sidney Fitzwater, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas; William J. Haynes Jr., Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee; James C. Mahan, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada; Susan Webber Wright, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas; and Marian F. Harrison, Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Joining them from the state judiciary was Camille McMullen, Judge of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.