Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition Final Round and Awards Event

This event occurred in the past

Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition Final Round and Awards Event

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Wednesday, March 24, 2021 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.



5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




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. 

View the program here. Registration is not required. Zoom will ask for your name and email address when joining the webinar.

Esteemed Judges

Hon. M. Margaret McKeown 
Hon. Robert J. Trentacosta, '79 (JD)
Hon. Judith Clark '89 (JD)

Final Round Competition - 5:30 p.m. 
Awards Event - 6:30 p.m. 

Case Before the Court

First Church of Rhodes, et al. v. City of Saint Denis.

The 2021 Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Moot Court problem deals with two issues arising out of the cancellation of Petitioner First Church of Rhodes’ advertisement on Respondent’s public transportation system.

The other Petitioner in this action, Rev. Orville Jennings Swanson, leads the First Church of Rhodes.  He applied for—and was granted—permission to use Respondent City of Saint Denis’ advertising space.  In response to public controversy surrounding Petitioners’ faith-healing, the City of Saint Denis cancelled the advertising lease.

The City of Saint Denis runs the Bayou Noir Transit Authority throughout the state of Lemoyne, located within the fictional Fourteenth Circuit.  The First Church’s advertisement featured a slogan used by Respondent-Intervenor Josiah Trelawny, a world-famous magician.  Prior to the First Church using the slogan in the advertisement, Trelawny’s magic act was marketed across the United States as a “Night of Mystery.”  Trelawny registered his trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  However, the public backlash and “cancel-culture” surrounding the First Church’s use of the slogan resulted in Trelawny’s trademark losing its value.

In cancelling the advertising agreement, the City cited two reasons.  First, the City points to a local ordinance approved by voters, prohibiting religious advertisements on government property as objectionable, controversial, or generally offensive.  Second, the City stated that it seeks to prevent a taking of Trelawny’s trademark rights. 

The First Church and Swanson filed an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming a violation of the First Amendment.

Petitioners argue that the City engaged in impermissible viewpoint discrimination, and that the City’s justification based on intellectual property rights fails because a taking is not cognizable for trademarks.  The City and Trelawny argue that the public transportation advertising space qualifies as a limited or non-public forum.  Respondents assert, as a result, that a lower level of First Amendment scrutiny justifies the City’s actions.  Additionally, Respondents argue that a lack of City action would result in a taking of Trelawny’s trademark by depriving him of the value of his mark.

In this tournament, the United States Supreme Court will address: (1) Whether a ban on religious advertisements within a government-run transportation system is considered a permissible non-public forum regulation or an impermissible viewpoint regulation under the freedom of speech guarantee of the First Amendment, and (2) whether the decrease of a trademark’s value which could have been avoided but-for government action is a taking under the Fifth Amendment, as incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment.


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