By Emily Peisker, HPU junior
BROWNWOOD – January 22, 2015 – Howard Payne University students Isaac Sommers and Katie Rose Bonner advanced to the semifinals at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament held at Florida International University in Miami on January 16 and 17.
For the individual speaker awards, Sommers, a freshman from Boerne, placed third overall, while Bonner, a senior from Lytle, placed thirteenth overall. The awards were given to the top 30 speakers, with a total of 160 at this year’s competition.
Moot Court offers undergraduate students the opportunity to cultivate their understanding of law interpretation, analytical debate, jurisprudence and case precedents through Supreme Court argument simulation. Approximately 400 teams competed at 10 regional tournaments from October to November, allowing the top 20 to 25 percent to proceed to nationals.
For the first day of the tournament, each team competed in three rounds of competition. Two-judge panels evaluated the rounds, resulting with only six out of 80 teams winning all six judges’ ballots at the end of the day. Sommers and Bonner were one of those six teams, securing them a top position in the round of 32.
The final day of the tournament showed Sommers and Bonner defeating the College of Wooster and Texas A&M University to face the former national champions from Patrick Henry College. The HPU team worked through a challenging round of arguments and a tough panel of judges to beat the Patrick Henry team and advance to the final four.
In the final four round, Sommers and Bonner faced another Patrick Henry team and were narrowly defeated by a two-to-one decision from the three-judge panel.
For the first time, HPU also competed in the national Brief-Writing Competition, during which Sommers and Bonner were awarded the ninth best respondent brief from the 10 best submitted from each side of the argument (petitioner and respondent).
Professor Lorianna Kelley coaches the Moot Court students and traveled with them to the event. Dr. Justin D. Murphy serves as HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.
“HPU has not advanced this far at the national tournament since Professor Kelley and Rob Welker were partners as students and won the championship more than a decade ago,” said Dr. Murphy. “HPU and the Academy are blessed to have students of the caliber of Katie and Isaac, and we are also blessed to have professors of the caliber of Professor Kelley.”
Photo cutline: Lorianna Kelley, center, coaches HPU Moot Court students including Katie Rose Bonner, left, and Isaac Sommers, right, who recently advanced to the semifinals at a national tournament.