School of Law News
Sara Belvill Wins Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition
On March 1, 2012, University of San Diego (USD) School of Law second-year law student Sara Belvill won the Ninth Annual Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition.
Held at the university's Joan B. Kroc Peace & Justice Theatre, the annual intramural event provides USD law students an opportunity to develop their brief-writing and advocacy skills by testing them in an open and rigorous competition. After filing a written brief, participants are given 15 minutes to argue their positions in the first round, and 20 minutes to do so in the semi-final and finals rounds. Semi-finalists are required to argue both sides of the issue as they advance in the competition.
This year's fictional case, American Secular Association v. Obama, was inspired by a recent Seventh Circuit decision. The case focused on an association of atheists and agnostics who are suing the President of the United States to invalidate the National Day of Prayer statute. Second-year law students Sara Belvill argued for the respondent, President Obama, and Kyra Monroe argued for the petitioner, American Secular Association.
The final round oral argument was presided over by the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; the Honorable Thomas L. Ludington, ‘79, District Judge for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan; and the Honorable Ronald F. Frazier, ‘82, Judge for the San Diego Superior Court.
After both finalists finished their arguments, Judges McKeown, Ludington, and Frazier deliberated and announced Sara Belvill as the winner. In their remarks, the judges agreed that it was a very close call and that they would be happy to have either student arguing in their courtrooms.
The competition was followed by a reception and awards dinner, attended by students, faculty, and USD School of Law alumni. In attendance at this year’s event were three of Paul A. McLennon Sr.’s sons, Paul Jr., Mark, and Stephen. The dinner was not only a celebration of the hard work of Sara and Kyra, but also of the entire USD School of Law Appellate Moot Court Board, who were ranked 9th in the nation for the 2011 ranking year.
Professor Michael Devitt and his family endowed the moot court competition in 2001 to honor longtime family friend, attorney and naval officer Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Mr. McLennon passed away in 2011. More than 400 local attorneys took part as judges and were charged with the task of narrowing the field down from 90 participants.
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