Students from urban high schools across the U.S. fought an intense rhetorical battle during the Second Annual National Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy High School Moot Court Competition here on March 20 and 21.
The teens argued a Fourth Amendment case that pitted a student accused of selling test results against a school principal who searched her computer records and her pants pockets.
At issue in the fictional case were questions involving students’ right to privacy and the requirements for a reasonable search by authorities – the very issues highlighted in a recent lawsuit alleging that officials from the Lower Merion Schools spied on students through webcams installed on district-owned laptop computers.
“It’s just amazing how close to reality this fictional scenario came,” said Professor Gwen Stern, director of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project and the Trial Advocacy Program. The scenario was written during the fall and early winter by 3Ls Mike DiFilipo, Emily Foote and Kim Magrini.
Students participating in the national competition were winners of local and regional contests in Baton Rouge, La., Boston, Mass., Camden, N.J., Louisville, Ky., New Haven, Conn., Tempe, Ariz., Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
Over two days of competition, the students argued on either the side of the student or the school principal. Their performance was judged by prominent jurists and practitioners. The final round was judge by Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg and Judge Juan Sanchez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Judge Anne Lazarus of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
The competition was the culmination of the year-long program, in which students from law schools visit urban high schools, where they teach teens about the U.S. legal system and groom them for moot court contests.
The finalists included Sharon Calvin, a student at the Creative and Performing Arts High School of Philadelphia coached by Dennis Chow and Amanda Stewart, who are 2Ls at the Earle Mack School of Law. Finalist Anna Ucheomumu, of Washington, D.C., had been coached by students from the American University Washington College of Law.
Matthew Palmer and Jadee Pope, named Best Oral Advocate and Second Place Oral Advocate respectively, were coached by students from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.