By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore
BROWNWOOD – December 3, 2014 –Howard Payne University pre-law students once again brought the university to the spotlight with successes in Moot Court. For the second year in a row, HPU students won the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association (TUMCA) regional competition and advanced to the national American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) tournament.
Katie Rose Bonner, a senior political science pre-law, history and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Lytle, and Isaac Sommers, a freshman social sciences jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boerne, recently earned the title of TUMCA champions at the Texas A&M School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Fort Worth.
The team dominated with Sommers receiving the prestigious Top Overall Speaker award and Bonner following closely with recognition as third overall speaker. The team’s success gave them an automatic bid to the ACMA National Tournament to be held at Florida International University College of Law in January.
Freshmen Moot Court partners Jakob Morgan, a social sciences jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Blanket, and Skyler Schoolfield, a social sciences jurisprudence, communication and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Aledo, also competed at the TUMCA tournament, finishing as quarterfinalists. Morgan and Schoolfield’s success later garnered them a bid to the national competition as well.
A portion of HPU’s Moot Court team also attended the recent Texas Tech School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Lubbock. Rebeca Puente, a sophomore political science pre-law and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Texarkana, placed as the eighth overall speaker.
Moot Court is an experiential learning program that offers students the opportunity to cultivate their understanding of law interpretation, analytical debate, jurisprudence and case precedents. Students learn to argue both sides of two theoretical cases involving constitutional issues before a simulated United States Supreme Court. The team is led by Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science.
“Howard Payne University has consistently shown great success competing in collegiate Moot Court,” said Kelley. “The students put in countless hours of work and preparation, and we love seeing that hard work recognized.”
Bonner, a three-year member of the team and two-time regional champion, reflected on her experience as an HPU Moot Court participant.
“Moot Court is one of the greatest opportunities I have received through Howard Payne,” she said. “The program at this school is truly phenomenal, as evidenced by the long record of HPU tournament wins. I am honored to be a part of that tradition, along with my excellent partner, Isaac. I am also grateful for the chance to be coached by Professor Kelley, a past national Moot Court champion, and for the fun and great dynamic we have with everyone on the team.”
Sommers echoed her sentiment.
“As a freshman at Howard Payne and as someone planning to study law, Moot Court has proven to be an absolutely invaluable experience for me,” he said. “The skills I am learning will better equip me for law school and would be beneficial for anyone regardless of profession.”
Additional team members include Nicole Nehf, a senior from May; Christopher Mitchell, a senior from Wolf City; Colton McCabe, a senior from Gatesville; Zachary Eller, a junior from Temple; Andres Zambrano, a junior from Lake Brownwood; Caitlin Wood, a junior from Miles; J. Brian Bailey, a sophomore from Gunter; and Dani Coquat, a freshman from Three Rivers.
Dr. Justin D. Murphy, HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, voiced his gratitude for those who give HPU students opportunities to succeed.
“God has blessed HPU and the Academy through the members of the Academy Board of Directors,” he said. “We would not be able to provide opportunities like this without their support over the years in establishing endowments and making gifts. I am also so very grateful to have a colleague with the credentials and leadership skills of Professor Kelley.”
Photo cutline: HPU’s Isaac Sommers and Katie Rose Bonner were named Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association regional champions at the recent Texas A&M School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Fort Worth.