William and Mary Law School

2008 William B. Spong, Jr. Invitational Moot Court Tournament Hosts Top National Teams

The 37th annual William B. Spong, Jr., Invitational Moot Court Tournament was held on February 15-16 at the Law School. Nineteen schools, coming from as far away as North Dakota and Utah, competed in the tournament. The tournament was won by Regent Law's Leo Lestino and Rachel Williams. The runners-up were from South Texas College of Law, a team made up of Kathryn McFarland, Michael Long, and David Abrams. University of Virginia's Jonathon Wolfason won Best Oralist, with his teammate Dean Razavi placing second.

The tournament has a national reputation for bringing together top teams and top judges from across the nation. This year's judging pool boasted seventeen real life judges, among them members of the states' highest courts -- Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer of the Supreme Court of Ohio, Justice Joseph P. Albright and Justice Larry Starcher of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Justice Scott Brister of the Supreme Court of Texas, and Judge Irma S. Raker of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Among the Marshall-Wythe alumni serving as judges were William M. Cusmano '86, O.L. Gilbert '75, R. Lee Livingston '93, Douglas Miller '95 (advisor to the Moot Court Team), Judge Charles Poston '74, Judge Robert W. Wooldridge, Jr. '79, and Deborah C. Waters '88.

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Serving as judges for the Spong Tournament's final round (left to right): Judge Warren R. King, D.C. Court of Appeals; Justice Joseph P. Albright, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals; Justice Larry Starcher, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals; Judge Alice Batchelder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Judge Jane R. Roth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; Judge Irma S. Raker, Maryland Court of Appeals; Judge Danny C. Reeves, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky; and Judge Walter S. Felton, Jr., Virginia Court of Appeals.

This year's problem, written by Spong Research Justice Christopher Lindsey '08, is based on two currently pending election law cases before the Supreme Court, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita. The Spong case, Popham Democratic Party v. Angeline, was set in the fictional state of Popham. The state's Democratic Party challenged a new voter ID law that requires all voters to present unexpired government-issued photo ID at the polls. While the State claimed that the Democratic Party did not have standing to assert the rights of hypothetical voters who may not have photo ID and that the state law was constitutional, the Democratic Party argued it had "associational standing" on behalf of its members and that the photo ID requirement violated the voting rights of poor citizens.

The William & Mary Moot Court team worked hard to prepare the tournament, led by Spong Justice Brandon Harter '09. Also preparing the tournament were Assistant Spong Justice Nicole Sornsin '09, Associate Spong Justice for Teams Barbara Rosenblatt '08, Associate Spong Justice for Judges David Tyler '09, and Chief Justice Amy Markopoulos '08.

The team awarded the Spong Memorial Award, which recognizes steadfast support of the Moot Court program, posthumously to retired Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Nelson T. Overton. A long-time Spong Tournament judge, Judge Overton passed away on January 9th of this year.

"Each year the Spong tournament provides a rare opportunity for our students to work with and learn from a remarkable real world faculty of judges and lawyers who help make the two day event a winter highlight for the school and the Moot Court team," Moot Court faculty advisor Doug Miller '95 said. "This year's problem provided a timely and topical opportunity to explore the reaches of constitutional protection for one of our most fundamental freedoms."