Rebekah Miller and Anna Jennings Win Baylor Law’s 2023 Dawson & Sodd Moot Court Competition
2023 Champions Rebekah Miller and Anna Jennings After the Final Round of the 2023 Fall Moot Court Competition, Monday, September 25, 2023
Runners-Up Nicholas Baker and Jake Adams After the Final Round of the 2023 Dawson and Sodd, PLLC Moot Court Competition
Finalists in Baylor Law’s annual Dawson & Sodd PLLC Moot Court Competition demonstrated their appellate advocacy skills before a distinguished panel of judges and a crowd of fellow students on Monday, September 25, in the James Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Courtroom. When the judges returned their decision, the Rebekah Miller and Anna Jennings team emerged as the winners over the team of Nicholas Baker and Jake Adams. The teams of Sean McLoughlin and Michael Stevenson and Nathan Dasilva and Brody Volpe ended the competition as Semi-Finalists.
Rebekah Miller, a graduate of Baylor University, plans to return to Colorado to practice law with a firm representing churches, schools, and non-profit organizations. At the end of the competition, she noted, “This is very affirming that the Lord has put me in law school for a reason. It’s encouraging to know that when you put in the work and rely on good friends, you can do great things.” A Yale University undergrad, Anna Jennings, added, “This win affirms that the Lord placed me at Baylor for a very specific reason. I’m thankful that I was able to go through the process with Rebekah, as we were able to encourage each other in our faith throughout the entire process.” Anna has an interest in pursuing both criminal law and business litigation.
Legal Writing Lecturer Professor Mike Berry, who teaches Legal Analysis, Research & Communication 3 (LARC 3) at Baylor Law, commended the finalists: “All four finalists showcased their advocacy skills, their ability to think on their feet, and they all skillfully navigated the probing questions from the judges.”
A Competition Weeks in the Making
At the start of the competition, each team of two competitors completed four preliminary rounds of oral arguments. The top six teams then moved into the post-break rounds that began on September 18. Student Barristers judged the preliminary rounds, and then Barristers and faculty judged the break rounds of oral argument. The top two teams at the end of the break rounds moved to the Final Round, streamed live on Monday, September 25.
The case this year involved a claim of fraud. The plaintiff bought a guitar that the defendant represented had been owned and played by John Lennon on several recordings by the Beatles in 1965. The appeal presented two issues about whether the fraud claim was barred as a matter of law. Throughout the competition, teams rotated between petitioner and respondent, forcing the participants to research both sides of the case deeply.
The final round featured a distinguished panel of judges, Professor Jim Underwood, Professor Jessica Asbridge, Professor Chris Jeager, Professor Stephanie Tang, and Professor Bridget Fuselier, acting as Chief Justice. Winners of the spring moot court competition in March, Kingrey Sullens and Kelton Munch, also joined the panel of judges.
The top speakers and the members of the top six teams have been named Barristers, an honorific title given to students who stand out for their appellate advocacy skills. This year’s top three speakers, by points awarded during the preliminary rounds, were:
- Sean McLoughlin
- (tie) Nicholas Baker, Anna Jennings
Also receiving oral advocacy honors were Saneela Tameez, Jake Adams, Olivia Womack, Rebekah Miller, Macey McCann, Alexandra Minor, Sasha MacLennan, and Marco Pena.
Professor of Law Bridget Fuselier, acting as Chief Justice, Gives Instructions to Competitors During the Final Round of the Fall 2023 Dawson & Soddd, PLLC Moot Court Competition
Professor Berry expressed his gratitude for the dedicated efforts of everyone involved in the competition, saying, “Many people spend significant time and effort to make this competition a success, including the Moot Court officers, barrister and faculty judges, and the staff involved in coordinating the logistics of all the rounds. The competitors and I would like to thank them for all their efforts. I also appreciate the enthusiasm and professionalism displayed by our student competitors. Finally, all of us here at Baylor Law are especially grateful for the generous support we receive from the competition sponsor, The Dawson & Sodd PLLC. law firm.” The firm’s two named partners were both graduates of Baylor Law. Legendary Matt “Mad Dog” Dawson (JD’ 38) served on Baylor Law’s faculty from 1938 to 1971 and was a professor of Baylor’s renowned Practice Court program for 13 years. Glenn Sodd (JD’ 72) has been a frequent speaker on eminent domain trial strategy, including testimony on innovation of the Texas Legislature, and is a Fellow in the American College of Trial.
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