Patrick Henry College
|PHC Moot Court team vies for national "three-peat"|
Crowning yet another season of forensic excellence and continuity, Patrick Henry College will send eight teams to compete for a potential third consecutive national championship this weekend at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association 2007 National Tournament. The tournament runs Friday and Saturday, January 19-20, at Regent University Law School in Virginia Beach.
While no college is eligible to send more than eight teams to the national finals, PHC, in fact, qualified an unprecedented nine at three regional tournaments in November and December.
“Whether we win a third national championship or not, there’s no other college in the league that has multiple teams competing, each of which are quite readily capable of winning a national championship,” said PHC Chancellor and Moot Court Coach, Dr. Michael Farris. “As two-time national champions, it’s fairly safe to say that people are paying attention to us.”
The College last January defended its 2005 national title, setting an ACMA record by sweeping first, second, and third place honors. That feat had never been accomplished in the league’s seven-year history. By qualifying the maximum eight teams for this weekend’s ‘07 tournament, PHC looks well poised for a possible “three-peat.”
“In terms of experience and raw talent, this team is as good as it’s been,” offers Peter Kamakawowoole, a past PHC moot court champion who won first place honors at December’s Eastern Regional Tournament at Fitchburg State College with partner, senior Lindsay See.
The duo enters the weekend tournament as the top seed, for good reason – both are multi-decorated and highly experienced. As a freshman in ’05, Kamakawowoole won first place in the national Moot Court finals with teammate Sarah Wilson; he followed it up in 2006 with a first place tie in the Individual Speaker Award category. In 2005, it was See who won the national Speaker Award trophy, returning in 2006 to capture fourth place honors. At this year’s regional tourney, in addition to their team title, See won the First Place Speaker Award with Kamakawowoole capturing fourth.
|Moot Court Coach, Dr. Michael Farris, puts team through paces|
“Peter and Lindsay are definitely our top team,” observes Caleb Dalton, who with partner Kirsten Winston will also compete this weekend, having captured second at the Southeastern Regional Tournament where Winston won First Place Speaker Award. “Both (Peter and Lindsay) have an excellent grasp of case law, the facts of the case, as well as the experience,” he adds. “Peter is so dedicated; he re-reads the 500-page case book each week and knows every nuance, footnote and citation of each case. His grasp of the facts on his feet is unparalleled.”
Unlike past years, teams qualified for the 2007 ACMA finals at a single regional competition during the fall, severely limiting live competitive rounds. The fact that each of PHC’s eight teams have but one competitive tournament under their belts going into nationals, however, is not viewed by Dr. Farris as a disadvantage.
“Even though we’re by far the smallest college in the tournament,” he says, “the good news is that, because we have so many quality competitors involved, all of our internal preparations have the intensity of a regional tournament.”
Of the team’s perennial depth and prowess, Kamakawowoole adds: “It’s a testament to how incredibly skilled Dr. Farris is as our coach. He’s told us repeatedly that he’s preparing us to argue cases before the Supreme Court, and that’s why our preparations are so rigorous.”
With PHC competing against both Christian and secular colleges, See notes that quality opportunities for personal interaction with competitors are limited, so that team members are ever vigilant to acquit themselves well at the podium, not merely for PHC but for Christ.
“Because of our success, everyone is aware of us,” she says, “and that we’re a small Christian school. It makes it that much more critical to take care to argue every case with integrity, and that we maintain integrity no matter what. It’s the way we show our witness for our faith, and I think it’s the reputation we’re earning.”
Adds Farris: “I’ve had coaches come up and tell me, ‘Your students are the only ones to ever say ‘thank you’ for holding the tournament.’ I’m more proud of that than the trophies. It shows, first, that we’ve attracted an amazing student body, and, second, that our form of education is very conducive for training highly effective advocates for a cause and reflecting, by their poise and conduct, the humble heart of Jesus.”
Other PHC teams competing at the ACMA 2007 National Tournament are: Jenna Lorence and Aidan Grano; Matt Roche and Kelsey Stapler; Rachel Heflin and Kawika Vellalos; Kyle Green and Holly Vradenburgh, and Nick Timpe and Anne Corda. PHC senior Will Glaser will also be competing, though not for PHC; his partner is Michaelyn Thomas from Cal State Long Beach.
Moot Court is a simulation of appellate court proceedings --also known as mock Supreme Court – and involves two-person teams of contestants arguing cases before judges. This year’s case hinges on the President’s authority under Article II of the U.S. Constitution to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens.