CANCELLED: Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition Final Round and Awards Dinner

This event occurred in the past

CANCELLED: Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition Final Round and Awards Dinner

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Warren Hall, Grace Courtroom and La Gran Terraza

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




The Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Honors Moot Court Competition is cancelled as a preventive measure to reduce risk related to the COVID-19 virus. Visit the university’s COVID-19 website for the most current information for the USD community.

The Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition provides an opportunity for students to develop their brief writing and advocacy skills and to test these skills in an open, rigorous competition. Organized by the Appellate Moot Court Board, the competition consists of several preliminary rounds, culminating in the final round argued before a distinguished panel of judges. This competition was established by USD Professor Michael Devitt to honor long time family friend, attorney and naval officer, Paul A. McLennon, Sr. 

Esteemed Judges

Hon. Kenneth Lee
Hon. Cathy Ann Bencivengo
Hon. Robert J. Trentacosta


Final Round Competition - 5:30 p.m. (Warren Hall Grace Courtroom)
Dinner - 6:30 p.m. (University Center La Gran Terraza)

Case Before the Court

Charley Witherspoon v. County of Salinger Falls, et al.

The 2020 Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Moot Court problem deals with three issues arising out of the detainment of Petitioner Charley Witherspoon, a former actor living in the fictional state of Salinger, located within the fictional Fourteenth Circuit.

Witherspoon was arrested for drug possession while highly intoxicated at a local bar in the City of Salinger Falls. He was subsequently processed and placed in a “drunk tank” with two other individuals despite requests for his own cell. Deputy Chavez, in charge of supervision the cell, did not supervise the cell for an extended period in which Witherspoon was attacked by another detainee. Dr. Lynn, a county doctor, examined Witherspoon on three separate occasions after the assault. Despite his complaints of hearing loss and significant pain, Dr. Lynn only performed minimal medical examinations. Ultimately, Witherspoon suffered facial paralysis on the left side of his face and permanent hearing loss in his left ear. After his release, Witherspoon made numerous false and disparaging remarks about Deputy Chavez and Dr. Lynn through local media. These remarks resulted in injury to the individual’s reputation and a protest outside the Sherriff’s Department.

Witherspoon filed an action claiming that his substantive due process rights were violated under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with regard to the Eighth Amendment. In response, the County of Salinger and associated individual defendants brought a counter-claim defamation action for false statements made against them.

Witherspoon argues that based on the 2015 Supreme Court decision, Kingsley v. Hendrickson, Section 1983 claims for inadequate supervision and inadequate medical care only require an “objectively unreasonable” analysis for pretrial detainees. Witherspoon also argues that due to a media appearance and their state positions, Dr. Lynn and Deputy Chavez’s defamation claims must meet an actual malice standard. Respondent, the County of Salinger, et al., argues the “objectively unreasonable” standard in Kingsley does not extend to other claims by pretrial detainees, narrowly limiting it to excessive force claims. Respondent asserts that this is essentially a negligence action without a showing of deliberate indifference so qualified immunity should apply. Finally, the County contends that rank-and-file police officers are not public officials because they lack substantial responsibility over government affairs and have not thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies.

In this tournament, the United States Supreme Court will address: (1) Whether the plaintiff must prove subjective indifference for failure-to-protect and inadequate medical care claims for pretrial detainees, (2) whether qualified immunity is provided to the government officials at issue, and (3) whether Deputy Chavez and Dr. Lynn are “public figures” or “public officers” such that the actual malice defamation standard is applied.

Directions and Parking

Visitors are required to display a valid permit Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are required to pay for parking on campus. Metered parking is available in multiple locations on campus, but we recommend you park in the Main Parking Structure which is a short walk to Warren Hall and the University Center. Visit the Paid Parking Information page for additional information. 

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