According to a press release, “Every year, law schools in the state of Georgia compete against each other at Intrastate, where student competitors are scored on written briefs and oral advocacy skills. Until this year, the University of Georgia has enjoyed a comfortable eight-year winning streak.
“This would all change in 2014 as the winning team, consisting of students Kimberly Stahl (Cartersville, Ga.), Daniel Ybanz (Port Orange, Fla.), Mathis Wilkens and Derek Gross, scored an upset. The AJMLS moot team defeated teams from the University of Georgia, Mercer University, Georgia State University and Emory University during the two-day event held at Emory University from March 21, 2014 to March 22, 2014.”
She said moot court is on the appellate level, not trial level, and the brief prepared by team members consists of about 33 percent of the competition score for each round. The competition also includes oral arguments on both sides of the issue.
“[This year’s scenario was] actually an issue that’s up before our supreme court right now. It has to do with the statutory and explanatory reporting duties of teachers and whether or not they’re a statutory reporter in all circumstances or whether a professional, educational relationship is required to exist before that mandatory duty would kick in,” Stahl said. “Then it also had to deal with the willfulness and knowingly requirement of the statute as well.”
She said the scenario was presented to participating colleges in January.
“Once the problem is released you have one month to submit your brief ... and then you have about a month to prepare for oral arguments,” Stahl said. “... During the preparation stage your mindset is very much how much can I find out about this issue; what are the governing cases and policies; what arguments [are] the judges and attorneys going to be concerned with.
“... When you’re up there [competing] you really hope for a hot bench, which means judges that are just firing questions left and right and you really just think how can I convey this in the clearest way possible so as not to confuse the issue and it’s all about being able to separate yourself from the moment and really being able to pay attention to the judges’ body language and the actual questions that they’re asking you and being able to answer effectively without seeming nervous.”
She said each school sends two teams typically comprised of three students, but John Marshall’s teams consisted of two students each.
“The first day we competed three times and those were all preliminary rounds, and then Saturday morning we had a final preliminary round to make four total,” Stahl said. “In our first preliminary round we went against the team we ended up going against in the finals, which was one of UGA’s teams. Then ... in the final round, we went up against the other UGA team for the semifinals.”
Associate Professor Suparna Malempati, who took the role of AJMLS director of advocacy programs in August of 2013, said in the press release the victory coincides with the mission of the college.
“This year marked significant achievements for the Moot Court program at AJMLS. Last semester, the AJMLS moot team was recognized in a national competition by winning Best Defendant’s Brief, Best Combined Briefs, and advancing to the Semi-Finals where the team placed Third overall in the 2013 Stetson University National Pre-Trial Competition,” Malempati said. “Oral advocacy and legal writing are a focus of our curriculum at John Marshall. The faculty are committed to the practical training of our students and provide tremendous support. We have also added two incredibly dedicated alumni coaches: Michael Bauer and Thomas Lyman. We have always known that our students are diligent and talented. I am just so pleased to see that they are being recognized for all of their hard work.
“Last, but certainly not least, we have had tremendous support this year from the faculty. Professors Baker, Boone, D’Agostino, De Haven, Doneff, Mears, and Van Detta tirelessly benched our competitors so that they were thoroughly prepared to walk away with the winning prize.”
Stahl is the daughter of Christina and Robert Stahl of Cartersville.