Kelley Chan (’13) wins 40th Annual Stanley Moot Court Competition

Kelley Chan  (’13) is the winner of the final round of the 40th annual Stanley Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Wake Forest University School of Law Moot Court Board.

40th Annual Stanley Moot Court Competition Finalists Morgan McCall ('13) and Kelley Chan ('13)

Morgan McCall (’13) represented the appellee, the United States of America, versus Chan, who represented the appellant, Megan Keane.

This year’s panel judges also included the Honorable Andre Davis, judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit; the Honorable Robert Conrad, judge, U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina; and the Honorable Patrick Auld, magistrate judge, U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina.

”I know excellence when I see it and I saw it here today,” Davis said  following the oral arguments held on Friday, Nov. 18, in the Worrell Professional Center. “The strongest oral argument I observed last year on the court was an argument from a Wake Forest law student for the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.”

Conrad added, “You both were awesome. I think both of you did a really good job of coming in with the things you wanted to say but then responding to judges’ questions.”

Competition chairpersons were Naomi Huntington (’12) and Jessica Rutledge (’12).

Adam White (’13) was named best oralist and the winner of the James C. Berkowitz Award, which was presented by his sister, Ella Berkowitz and his niece. James died in a car accident when he was returning to the law school to argue in the quarterfinals of the 1984 Stanley Competition. McCall was runner-up for best oralist.

McCall  received the award for best brief. Runner-up for best brief was EmilySchwebke.

The intramural moot court competition is named in honor of the late Judge Edwin M. Stanley, a distinguished Wake Forest alumnus and supporter, who served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina from 1958-1968.

A description of this year’s problem follows.

United States of America vs. Megan Keane

On May 15, 2011, in Canaveral National Seashore, United States Park Ranger Richard Green discovered that someone had desecrated a sign at an entrance to the park by spray painting over it. In black paint, someone had covered the word “Seashore” and painted “Oil Field.” Ranger Green suspected the perpetrator was nearby, because he had seen the sign undamaged a short time before.

Ranger Green stopped the Jeep he was driving. He heard movement, and went around a nearby sand dune where he encountered a short young woman with red hair who he later determined to be Ms. Megan Keane. Because Ms. Keane appeared nervous and had spray paint on her fingers, Ranger Green arrested her for injuring government property.

Ranger Green took Ms. Keane back to the Jeep and had her wait outside it while he searched for his copy of “Miranda” rights. He found the rights, read them to Ms. Keane, had her sit in the passenger seat, and drove to his office, which was about two miles away. At his office, Ranger Green asked Ms. Keane for her identification to complete the paperwork for her arrest. She handed him a Florida driver’s license with an Orlando address.

Ranger Green then asked Ms. Keane for permission to search her backpack. Ms. Keane refused, shaking her head. Ranger Green seized the backpack anyway, and in the main pocket, found a can of red spray paint. He did not find a can of black spray paint, and thought that Ms. Keane might have thrown it behind the dune where he found her.

In a smaller pocket of the backpack, Ranger Green found a Droid Charge cell phone with a touch screen and internet access. At this point, approximately one and a half hours after the arrest, Ranger Green searched her phone. He believed Ms. Keane might have taken photos of the defaced sign, which would provide evidence of the crime. Ranger Green asked for Ms. Keane’s permission to search the phone, but as with the backpack, she shook her head no.

Ms. Keane’s cell phone was not locked or password protected. Officer Green opened the photographs icon, and scanned all the photos, between 50 and 100 in all, but found nothing relating to the spray painted sign. Surprised that he found no photographic evidence, Ranger Green continued on to scan the text messages. The most recent text message caught Ranger Green’s eye, because it said “got to go.” Opening that message, he then saw a history of several related messages, including one that read, “don’t drill baby remember mr bigg.”

When Ranger Green saw this message, he began to suspect Ms. Keane of involvement in the highly publicized and recent kidnapping of Henry Potter, CEO of Bigg Oil Company in Orlando. Online, Ranger Green looked at news reports of the Potter kidnapping, including Potter’s statement that, before he was blindfolded, he noticed that one of the suspects was a short young woman with red hair. Ranger Green also knew that the kidnapping had occurred in Orlando, and that Ms. Keane’s driver’s license had an Orlando address. He contacted authorities in Orlando. Further evidence was obtained linking Ms. Keane to the kidnapping, and she was later indicted for both kidnapping Potter and injuring government property.

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida held that Ms. Keane’s cell phone was validly searched incident to her arrest. Ms. Keane now appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, alleging that the search of her cell phone was an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.