U. of Florida law school wins mock appelate court contest

By Michelle de Leon | Nov 25, 2016

GAINESVILLE -- Law students from the University of Florida emerged victorious in the 36th annual Florida/Georgia Moot Court Competition.

GAINESVILLE -- Law students from the University of Florida emerged victorious in the 36th annual Florida/Georgia Moot Court Competition.

Austin Sherman and Logan Opsahl represented the University of the Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law in the mock appellate court contest against the University of Georgia College of Law. The competition is part of the tradition of the legal community in Jacksonville specifically between the two schools. The contestants from Georgia were Bethany Edmondson and Michael Parrish.

This contest, held every year on the Friday prior to the football game between Florida and Georgia, was conducted Oct. 28 at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse in Jacksonville.

Every year, the organizers of the competition select an issue or argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. These topics are generally unresolved matters concerning federal constitutional law and are of current significance in society. For the recently concluded event, one topic involved the constitutionality of a county ordinance governing the licenses of tour guides. The other centered on the ban against the use and possession of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

The contestants presented their arguments for approximately an hour before the panel of judges. Before the announcement of winners, the panel said the decision was not unanimous. In praising the preparation and knowledge of the contestants, the judges noted the quality of the arguments presented by both sides made it challenging to arrive at a decision.

The panel included William Terrell Hodges, senior district judge, Ocala, William Moore, district judge, Savannah, Timothy Corrigan, district judge, Jacksonville, Marcia Morales Howard, district Judge, Jacksonville and Lisa Godbey Wood, district judge, Brunswick.

In his speech prior to announcing the decision, Corrigan teased that his background as a Duke University alumnus granted him the honor of being the presiding judge in the competition. He also joked that this was “as close as we could get to neutral,” according to the Financial News and Daily Record.

This annual mock court competition was started in 1980 by the late Mark Hulsey. He was then a partner at Smith Hulsey & Busey in Jacksonville and an alumnus of the University of Florida. To continue the tradition, Smith Hulsey & Busey sponsors the event every year with the Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP of Atlanta.

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